Feds renaming Lewisburg penitentiary and six other prisons

Apr. 19—LEWISBURG — U.S. Penitentiary (USP) Lewisburg has been renamed Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Lewisburg to reflect the new mission at the medium-security prison.

The Bureau of Prisons noted on its website this month that the Lewisburg facility and five other former USPs — Leavenworth, Atlanta, Marion, Lompoc and Yazoo City — are being renamed as FCIs since each are now medium- or low-security facilities.

A seventh facility, FCI Morgantown in West Virginia, has been renamed FPC Morgantown to reflect its change to a minimum-security federal prison camp.

"Changing the names to properly reflect the actual facility mission and security levels will be more transparent and intuitive for the public and for adults in custody," according to the bureau website.

The name change for each of the prisons "should not cause a physical change to the facade of the structure without a formal historical survey approved by the state" in which the prison is located, the agency said.

This week, the Lewisburg prison's website was changed to reflect the new name at the medium-security facility which currently houses 654 male inmates.

Opened in 1932, the facility operated for years as a maximum-security prison and was known as the Big House.

In 2009, USP Lewisburg was designated as a Special Management Unit for housing the most violent inmates in the federal prison system. That designation was dropped in early 2021 when the unit was transferred to USP Thomson in Illinois and Lewisburg moved from a high-security to a medium-security institution.

The new mission of the prison will not alter the work of the inmate advocacy group, Lewisburg Prison Project, said board member Dave Sprout who wondered aloud how it will impact the public's view of the facility known as "Big House" for so many years and once housed some of the country's most infamous convicts including alleged spy Alger Hiss, serial killer Robert Hansen and mobsters John Gotti and Whitey Bulger.

"The name change does not change any of our four current missions. We are still The Big House," said Local 148 President Stephanie Hoffa.

A job fair will be held at FCI Lewisburg from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, April 28. The age limit has been raised to 40 and the bureau is offering a 25 percent recruitment bonus for officers, Hoffa said.