Inside the Oak Park Heights prison where Derek Chauvin is being held

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Derek Chauvin will spend the next eight weeks at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights — a maximum-security state prison from which no inmate has ever escaped in its nearly 40-year history.

After being convicted in the murder of George Floyd, the ex-Minneapolis cop had his bail swiftly revoked and he was transferred to the prison in Stillwater.

Chauvin — who is facing up to 40 years for killing Floyd during an arrest — will stay there until his sentencing.

The facility, which is about 25 miles east of downtown Minneapolis, has a reputation for being highly secure and housing some of the most notorious criminals.

How secure is the prison?

Officially known as Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights (MCF-OPH), the facility is the state’s only level five prison for male inmates.

“Oak Park Heights is the highest custody level in the Minnesota DOC system. However, the majority of inmates housed here are maximum and close custody, as some of the inmates need a higher level of security,” the DOC said.

Built partially underground, the fortress is designed to isolate the inmates and prevent them from fighting each other or their guards, according to the National Geographic series “America’s Hardest Prisons.”

Since it first opened in 1982, there have been no escapes and only one recorded homicide, Newsweek reported.

In 2013, Shane Lawrence Cooper, an inmate, was found dead shortly after surveillance footage showed another prisoner, Benjamin Heath Beck, enter his cell, the Star Tribune reported.

Beck later admitted to strangling Cooper with a shoelace from a tennis shoe in his room, the newspaper reported.

Prison employees have warned that there had been “many staff assaults” and working there “can be dangerous” in anonymous Indeed posts.

“Must be on top of your toes at all times since dealings [sic] with some of the worst criminals out there,” one post said.

Who are some of its most notorious inmates?

The facility, which can house up to 473 inmates, has been home to some of the state’s most dangerous criminals.

Minnesota’s “Weepy-Voiced Killer,” Paul Michael Stephani — a serial killer known for his tearful phone calls taunting police in the 1980s — was an inmate there before his death in 1998, the Star Tribune reported.

Mark Antonio Profit, a convicted murderer who was believed to be the “Wirth Park Killer,” died from a drug overdose while a prisoner there in 2002.

Byron Smith, who killed his teenage cousins on Thanksgiving 2012, also served out his sentences at the prison, news station WCOO reported.

Another inmate, Lawrence Scott Dame, was sent there after he was convicted of fatally bludgeoning his sister, her husband, and their three kids as they slept in their home in October 2000, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

Are inmates allowed to have visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Per the facility’s current COVID-19 guidance, Chauvin will be allowed to have a limited number of visitors.

All visits are limited to up to one hour, and all guests must wear masks, the DOC said.

Visitors and inmates, however, are prohibited from having any physical contact.

Chauvin will be allowed to meet with his attorney, whose number was reportedly written on his hand as he was taken into custody Tuesday following the verdict.

What are some of the programs at the prison?

The prison offers enrichment options to inmates such as literacy, digital literacy, and General Educational Development (GED) programs.

Inmates also have the opportunity to earn certificates in computer career programming.

It also has its own newspaper, the New Perspective, which was started in the late ’80s.

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