October 29, 2009 in Idaho
Betsy Russell photo

A correctional officer leaves the Idaho Maximum Security Institution, whose entryway was festooned with flags on Thursday to mark the prison’s 20th anniversary.

Betsy Russell photo

Three correctional officers escort an inmate to his segregation cell at the Max, as Idaho’s maximum security prison is called. Inmates in segregation - now most of those at the prison - have their handcuffs removed through a slot in the door after they’re in their cell.

Betsy Russell photo

Signs saying “Security is never convenient” are posted on a myriad of doors at the Max - usually security doors at which officers or others must wait for clearance and remote unlocking before they can proceed.

Betsy Russell photo

An inmate who was being transferred from the Idaho Correctional Center is escorted by officers to his new cell at the Max. The Max houses Idaho’s most dangerous offenders.

Betsy Russell photo

These cells stand empty in the E-block at the Max, where both the E and G blocks have been empty since early September as part of a money-saving move.

Betsy Russell photo

This cell in the E-block used to house two prisoners. The state is saving money by shifting inmates to its cheapest beds - including those at the privately operated Idaho Correctional Center down the road, rather than at the state-run maximum security prison.

Betsy Russell photo

Sgt. David Belz, shown here in the now-vacant E-block, has worked at the Max for the past 11 years. The biggest change he’s seen: Younger, gang-affiliated inmates who “have no respect for anybody.” The Max increasingly is made up of segregation cells, rather than general-population cells.

Betsy Russell photo

Inmates in the general population at the Max have this outdoor track to use as their exercise yard.

Betsy Russell photo

Inmates in segregation, including those on Death Row, are allowed out of their cells for only one hour a day, five days a week, to exercise in outdoor, concrete-floored cages like these in J block. Their one attraction: A whiff of outside air.

Betsy Russell photo

The execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Prison is a low-profile white mobile home that stands on the grounds of the Max.

Betsy Russell photo

Flags and red, white and blue bunting brighten the front of the otherwise bleak maximum security prison Thursday in the sagebrush desert southeast of Boise.