plymouth rock

Inside the "unrelentingly harsh", maximum-security prison where David Drumm will spend Christmas

The Plymouth County Correctional Facility has housed infamous murderers and terrorists, and now, the former CEO of Anglo.


FORMER ANGLO CEO David Drumm will spend Christmas inside a maximum-security prison in the US state of Massachusetts.

After he was denied bail, pending an extradition hearing in March, informed sources confirmed for that the 49-year-old was currently housed at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, 40 miles south of Boston.

The institution is run by the local Sheriff’s office, but currently holds over 1,000 inmates in state, local and federal custody, including those – like Drumm – who are in the custody of the US Marshals.

Plymouth is famous for housing Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger, before his multiple murder convictions in 2013, and Richard Reid, the jihadist “Shoe-bomber”, who attempted to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001.

Drumm’s lawyers had complained to Judge Donald Cabell that conditions at the prison were “unrelentingly harsh,” and so “uncomfortable” as to make it almost impossible for them to consult with their client.

This was one of the five “special circumstances” put forward by Drumm in his request for bail, which was firmly rejected earlier this month by Judge Cabell, who wrote:

The need to assist in defending against the extradition proceeding itself is not a special circumstance. Neither is the fact that jail is unpleasant.

One hour of visits per week

visits2 The visitors' waiting room at Plymouth County Correctional Facility. Plymouth County Sheriff's Department Plymouth County Sheriff's Department

As an inmate whose surname begins in D, Drumm is entitled to a maximum of two 30-minute visits per week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and from a maximum of five people at one time.

Those five people must be pre-approved well in advance by prison authorities, after a background check and criminal record search, according to the prison’s website.

Visitors must adhere to a strict dress code – no mini-skirts, no coats, jackets or hoodies, no short shorts, no caps or hats, no belts, and no jewellery (except wedding rings) or cash. All pockets must be empty.

The half-hour visits consist of a phone call across thick glass.

Drumm will be able to receive letters and gifts in the post, but these too are subject to strict conditions – no polaroid photos, no obscene images, no hardback books (only paperback and magazines).

All post is opened by prison authorities and checked for contraband, before being handed over to inmates.

Family and friends can’t call prisoners – but prisoners can call them.

A place with a patchy history

jailarial2 Plymouth County Sheriff's Department Plymouth County Sheriff's Department

The Plymouth County Correctional Facility was constructed starting in 1991, and opened in 1994. Built on 245,464 square feet, it is divided up into 21 smaller units, and has the capacity for 1,242 inmates.

Some of those are serving their custodial sentences, while others are held there pending trial.

The prison is used by both the US Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which deals with people in the middle of immigration proceedings, and detains foreigners prior to their deportation.

The facility does have a special single-cell wing where extremely high-risk inmates are placed, to keep other prisoners safe from them, and where others in sensitive situations are housed for their own protection. was not able to ascertain whether Drumm is in custody in the “G Unit”, as it’s known, or is sharing a cell and mixing with others in the main prison population.

15-4-28-pccf-pod Mass.Gov Mass.Gov

Plymouth has had a somewhat patchy record in its 21 years of operation.

In 1998, two inmates escaped, defeating an $8 million security system by finding the surveillance cameras’ blind spots and cutting a section of fence there, before climbing on to the roof, the Boston Globe reported at the time.

Last year, a friend of convicted Boston bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev told friends and family he had been badly beaten, harassed and intimidated by Plymouth guards, while in custody pending a trial for destroying evidence related to the bombing.

There were two inmate suicides in the space of 10 days at Plymouth, in October and November last year.

And in its most recent inspection report, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found almost 200 health and safety violations there.

These included inadequate floor space and ventilation in some cells, food contamination, leaking ceilings, mould in showers, and in a few instances, bird’s nests in rafters.

Jim Pingeon, from the local non-profit group Prisoners’ Legal Services, told Plymouth was known as “one of the more unpleasant jails in Massachusetts.”

Although it’s a newer building than many, the layout and overall atmosphere is pretty grim.  One of the problems is that there is no real outdoor recreation area.
Prisoners have access to recreation decks attached to their units, but they are small, surrounded on at least three sides by concrete walls, and often roofed over, and even the corridors feel cramped and claustrophobic.

On the other hand, the American Correctional Association gave Plymouth almost-perfect scores in its 2014 audit, which evaluated security, inmate care, and cleanliness.

At the time, Sheriff Joseph McDonald called it “as close as possible to achieving the top grade a facility can get.”

A dramatic change of scenery

DSC_0055 The Donald W Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island, where Drumm was held after his arrest in October. Donald W Wyatt Detention Facility Donald W Wyatt Detention Facility

After his arrest in October, Drumm had been kept in US Marshals custody at the private Donald W Wyatt prison in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

The facility’s warden, Daniel Martin, told that Drumm had been transferred from there “several weeks” before his bail request was denied, on 10 December.

And Drumm’s temporary home in Plymouth is an even further cry from the family’s $2 million, four-bedroom house 50 miles away in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where he had offered to spend the next few months under house arrest, and wearing an electronic tag.

drummhomewellesley The Drumm family's $2 million home in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Google Maps Google Maps

In a statement to the court on 13 November, Drumm pleaded “The last six years or so have been very difficult for me,” and concluded:

I’m asking the Court to let me out on bail on whatever conditions, restrictions, no matter how severe they have to be, so that I can be with my family, first of all, so that I can work and support my family, and that I can get through in an effective way this whole legal quagmire that I’m in…
I’ve had 33 days in jail to think about it, there is no way on earth I can do that from a jail cell, it’s too complex a matter, hence, I’m beseeching the Court.

However, US Attorney Amy Burkart, who is acting on behalf of the Irish government, was having none of it:

The [prison] situation is resolved…He has had full access to counsel.

Criticising the rationale behind the bail request from Drumm’s lawyer, Burkart added:

What strikes me about both his argument and Mr. Drumm’s statements is that they both seem to think that the regular rules don’t apply to him and don’t apply to this case.

Originally published 7.15am. Due to ongoing legal proceedings, comments for this article have been closed.

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