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Crime and Courts

Inmate killed in fight at federal prison in Colorado becomes third to die in a spate of violence

Jamarr Thompson, 33, was pronounced dead Monday afternoon at USP Florence

The Federal Correctional Complex, Florence is compromised of four federal prisons: the minimum security Federal Prison Camp, the medium security Federal Correctional Institution, the high security United States Penitentiary, and the United States Penitentiary ADMAX, also known as the supermax. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

By Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A federal prisoner at a high-security penitentiary in Colorado died Monday in an altercation with another inmate, marking the third time an inmate has been killed in a U.S. federal prison in the last month.

Jamarr Thompson, 33, was pronounced dead Monday afternoon at USP Florence, shortly after prison staff members responded to the fight, the Bureau of Prisons said.

Thompson’s death was the latest security issue for the federal prison system, which has been plagued by chronic violence, serious misconduct and persistent staffing shortages. His death also comes as the Justice Department is facing mounting pressure from Democrats in Congress to take action to reform the agency.

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Last month, a 61-year-old man died after an altercation at USP Tucson in Arizona. And a 32-year-old man was killed last week after a fight with another prisoner at USP Canaan in Waymart, Pennsylvania.

The Bureau of Prisons said staff members were called to respond to an altercation between Thompson and another inmate around 2:30 p.m. and “promptly initiated life-saving measures” but Thompson was pronounced dead by emergency medical crews. The other inmate involved in the fight was treated for minor injuries, officials said.

Thompson was serving a sentence of more than five years for attempted bank robbery and had been held at the prison – which is home to more than 700 male inmates – since March.

The prison complex in Florence is home to several federal prisons, including the so-called supermax, which houses some of the country’s most notorious prisoners.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to fire Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, saying he has failed to adequately address the myriad crises plaguing the agency.

In doubling down on his call for Carvajal’s firing last week, Durbin, D.-Ill., pointed to a series of recent violent incidents within the federal prison system, including an attack in November at FCI Fort Dix, a low-security prison in Burlington County, New Jersey, that is run by the same warden who was in charge of a Manhattan federal jail when financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. An inmate was stabbed in the eyeball in that attack.