Here's What's Inside El Chapo's Prison Cell

Mexican cartel leader Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, most famously known as El Chapo, has successfully escaped prison not once but twice. In 2019, El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes, including money laundering, murder, and drug distribution. To ensure that the notorious criminal won't escape prison again, El Chapo was sent to ADX-Florence, a supermax prison located in Florence, Colorado.

A supermax prison has the highest level of security in the system and holds the most dangerous criminals, much like Alcatraz. In fact, ADX is also called the Alcatraz of the Rockies, and it is located in the desert about two hours from Denver. No prisoner has ever escaped the facility since its establishment in 1994, per Corrections 1. Many have described the situation in ADX as torture, and a former warden there, Robert Hood, said that the facility was "not built for humanity," per The Denver Post. "I think that being there, day by day, it's worse than death," he said. Other notorious criminals imprisoned at ADX include Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, former FBI agent-turned-Soviet spy Robert Hanssen, Philadelphia mafia boss Nicodemo Scarfo, and September 11 attack conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

El Chapo's life at ADX

El Chapo has a life sentence plus 30 years at ADX-Florence. There, he spends 23 hours a day locked up in his 7x12-foot concrete cell that is soundproof to avoid inmates from communicating with each other. The cell is equipped with basic necessities such as a bed, desk, and chair, which are made of concrete and attached to the walls, preventing prisoners from moving them. According to the Daily Record, El Chapo's cell is also equipped with a toilet and shower area, but water is time-controlled to avoid flooding. Furthermore, electricity in the cells is controlled by guards, so by a certain time, inmates no longer have access to light.

To add to his isolation, El Chapo's prison cell has two doors — one solid outer door and an interior jail door. Although the cell has a tiny window measuring 42 inches tall and 4 inches wide, there is no view of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. This restricted visibility prevents inmates from knowing their exact location within ADX, as reported by The Denver Post. El Chapo is allowed one hour of recreation time in a concrete pit that looks just like an empty pool. The notorious drug lord is escorted there by three guards, where he is allowed to walk around the pit to exercise. However, it only allows for 10 steps in a straight line or 31 in a circle. Again, the pit is designed so that inmates don't have a view of their whereabouts in the prison.

El Chapo wants to appeal his case

Just one year after spending time at ADX-Florence, El Chapo is hopeful that an appeal is his ticket out of the supermax prison. In 2020, his attorneys began working to have his conviction overturned. Per Anadolu Agency, the next step for El Chapo's team is to appeal to Mexican authorities to help ensure his return to Mexico, where he can be tried in his homeland. Per his lawyers, his extradition to the United States following his most recent capture was unlawful. "We went for legal requests to protect Joaquín Guzman and all legal procedures were denied," said Jose Refugio, one of his lawyers.

While his lawyers are working on his appeal, El Chapo allegedly remains optimistic of his chances. "My personal impression is that everyone that is facing a life sentence like that is going to hold on to every piece of hope," said attorney Mariel Colon, per CBS Denver.