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MCC Chicago
Cook County - Federal Prison - Illinois
Metropolitan Correctional Center Chicago

Opened: 1975

Supervised by: Catherine Linaweaver  

Total inmates: 601

Security: Administrative

Phone Number: 312-322-0567

Fax Number: 312-347-4012

Email Address: CCC/[email protected]

Prison Overview

Prison System: Federal Bureau of Prisons; North Central Region

Status: Active, opened in 1975


Offender Gender: Male and Female

Security Level: Administrative

Distinguishing Feature: The distinguishing feature of the Chicago MCC is its architecture, which differs substantially from the designs normally found in prison or jail facilities.  It was designed by the architect Harry Weese, built in a right-triangle design, and designed so that all of the cells in the facility have windows.  Those windows are too small for inmates to escape; they are only five inches wide.  The building coordinates with the rest of the city’s dramatic architecture.  

The Chicago MCC primarily holds inmates who are awaiting trial in Chicago or who have had their criminal trials and are awaiting sentencing.  It can also hold inmates who are testifying in another trial as well as cadre inmates who will serve their whole sentence at MCC, providing labor for the prison.  Most of the cadre inmates are male, so that access to prison jobs is limited by gender. 

The Chicago MCC is basically a holding facility for unsentenced inmates, which means that it must be capable of holding inmates at all security risks and levels.  However, is not.  For example, female inmates who need to be placed in a secure housing unit are transferred to Chicago’s Cook County Jail, because the Chicago MCC does not have housing for female SHU inmates.  The bottom floors of the facility are for administration or hold machinery, while the top floors are for housing.  The roof contains a recreation area.  The floors are designated for particular inmate types, so that inmates are segregated by gender, whether they have been sentenced, whether they are pre-trial, and whether they have any special security designations.  Most cells are multiple occupancy and vary from 72 to 74 square feet.  Inmates may also live in a dormitory setting.

The majority of prison programming at the Chicago MCC is only available to the cadre or long-term inmates, rather than the inmates who are there awaiting sentencing or trial. Inmates have access to GED and ESL programming, which is necessary for Good Time credit.  Furthermore, inmates who complete that programming are entitled to a $25 incentive.  Inmates can complete parenting and adult continuing education classes.  Inmates may also have access to: the reentry programming, religious programming, and some mental health services More information about prison programming can be found in the prison handbook.    

The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not maintain a prison industries program.  Cadre inmates at Chicago MCC are assigned to prison work units, but only male inmates are assigned to prison jobs. 

Commissioned in 1971, the Chicago MCC was built for the Bureau of Prisons to serve as a metropolitan correctional center for the Chicago are.  It was designed to fit in with the other remarkable Chicago architecture.  However, the innovative design may have negatively impacted security; the Chicago MCC has been the location of several successful escapes and a number of unsuccessful escape attempts. In 1985, Bernard Welch and Hugh Colomb, both convicted murderers, escaped from the facility, and were eventually recaptured.  In 2012, Kenneth Conley and Joseph Banks, both convicted bank robbers, escaped from the facility.  Both were recaptured and sent to Florence ADX, a supermax facility. 

The Chicago MCC has had a number of notorious inmates, including various organized crime figures.  These inmates include alleged Sinaloa Cartel members Vincente Zambada-Niebla, Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez and Tomas Arevalo-Renteria, weight loss guru Kevin Trudeau, rockstar and hacker Sandy Fury, director Christopher Nolan’s brother Matthew Nolan, and Piper Kerman of Orange is the New Black fame.  Matthew Nolan attempted to escape from the prison, which resulted in him receiving a 14-month sentence in the United States, though he was originally being held at the Chicago MCC as part of expedition proceedings for Costa Rica.

Find an Inmate The Bureau of Prisons maintains an inmate locator service.

Send Money to an Inmate  All money at for prisoners in federal prisons must be processed through a central processing facility in Des Moines. 

Purchase Commissary Items for an Inmate  Prisoners can purchase their own commissary items with funds in their inmate trust accounts; this link will take you to a list of items available in the prison commissary.  Commissary purchases are limited to $320 per month as well as limits to particular items, which are stated on the commissary sheets.

Visit an Inmate  Visitation hours at Chicago MCC are: 8am-11am and 12pm-3pm on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays and 12pm-3pm and 5pm-8pm Monday through Friday.  Because visitation may be restricted for safety and security and inmates who are being disciplined may have limited visitation, visitors can call 312-322-0567 to confirm visiting hours.    

Receive calls from an Inmate  Information on inmate phone calls, including how to get on the phone call list, can be found in the prison’s handbook. Chicago MCC uses the Trufone system.

Email an Inmate Inmates in Bureau of Prisons facilities, including Chicago MCC have access to Trulincs, a system that permits electronic correspondence that is similar to email or text messaging.

Physical Prison Address:
71 West Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60605

Mailing Address:

CHICAGO, IL  60605


Warden or Supervisor: Warden Catherine Linaweaver Daily Inmate Count: 601 Security Level(s): Administrative

71 West Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60605

Phone Number(s): 312-322-0567
Fax Number: 312-347-4012
Email Address: ccc/[email protected]

71 West Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60605

Criminal & Traffic Records Search

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Criminal & Traffic Records Search

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