The Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.
The Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in downtown Chicago was designed by Harry Weese Associates and built in 1975. This 26-story building was a medium-security holding prison for federal inmates slated to testify in upcoming court cases. Some prisoners were housed there to supply information to government authorities about eminent gang-related violence directed against federal prison staff and other inmates. The Feds also hoped some of these snitches would tell them about upcoming escape attempts from other federal prisons.
Original MCC design by Harry Weese Associates, Chicago.
By 1985, Bernard Welch had been incarcerated for five years in high-security federal prisons for the murder of Dr. Michael Halberstam in Washington, D.C. Most of Welch’s time had been served in the “New Alcatraz,” a supermax prison in Marion, Illinois. Welch managed to convince federal authorities that he knew about some revenge murders and riots planned at the federal prisons in Marion and Atlanta. His story carried some weight with authorities, because Welch was in New York’s Attica State Prison during the riot of September 1971, in which 43 inmates and prison staff were killed.
Welch was transferred from Marion to the Federal Witness Protection Program, which was administered by the Justice Department. He was housed on the sixth floor of the MCC with eleven others. All twelve men in the protection program had killed someone. The warden and staff at the Chicago MCC were aware that Bernard Welch had a history of violence. What they didn’t know about was his escape history. It was ironic that the man brought to the MCC to inform the Feds about the upcoming escape attempts of others was actually planning his own escape. And this high-rise prison-without-bars was just what he had in mind.
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