The military prison where Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is being held in the killing of 17 Afghan civilians is the country's only maximum security military jail, where he may be sharing meals with the military's most notorious criminals.
The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., house nearly 500 former soldiers, some of whom have killed military officials and civilians, traded state secrets, and refused to follow orders from officers as high up as the commander-in-chief.
If convicted and sentenced to serve time at Leavenworth, Bales could find himself sharing meals and recreation time with accused Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning or convicted officer-killer Hasan Akbar. Inside the fence that encircles Leavenworth, the military's top criminals are guarded by soldiers and military police officers 24 hours a day.
Private First Class Bradley Manning was charged with leaking secret government documents to the website Wikileaks in 2010, after he allegedly downloaded classified documents from a computer system in Baghdad onto CDs he labeled as Lady Gaga albums. He was arrested and charged after Wikileaks posted thousands of pages of diplomatic cables and footage of airstrikes on the internet.
Manning is being held in the general population of Leavenworth awaiting trial. He was moved there from Marine Corps Base Quantico, where he was held in confinement with no access to personal items. In Leavenworth, he is allowed to socialize with other pre-trial detainees.
Former Army sergeant Hasan Akbar was convicted of killing two Army officials and wounding 14 soldiers in a grenade attack during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Akbar,who was born by the name of Mark Kools, was a convert to Islam and wrote during the Iraq invasion about his displeasure with the American invasion of a Muslim country. On March 23, 2003, he threw grenades into the tents of sleeping Army officials, and yelled about Americans killing and raping Iraqi citizens.
Akbar was sentenced to death in 2005, and is on death row at Leavenworth.
Sgt. John Russell faces charges for killing five service members in the Camp Liberty shootings in Iraq in 2009. Russell, who is being held at Leavenworth awaiting his trial, is accused of opening fire at a mental health clinic at the base. A military judge has determined that Russell will not face the death penatly because of a serious mental illness.
Former Marine lance corporal Kenneth Parker has sat on death row at Leavenworth since 1995, when he was convicted of killing two Marines, four days apart, in 1992. The only Marine on the military's death row, Parker was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping in addition to the murders, which he allegedly committed with co-defendant Marine Wade Walker.
Former Army specialist Ronald Gray was convicted in 1988 of a spree of rapes and murders of female soldiers and civilians. He was convicted of 14 charges and sentenced to death, a sentence that former President George W. Bush signed an order to carry out in July 2008. Gray, however, received a stay on the order from a federal judge. In early 2012, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals denied Gray's request for relief, sentencing him once again to death by lethal injection. An order for the death penalty will have to be signed by the current president before Gray will be put to death.
|Dwight J. Loving|
A former Army private at Fort Hood, Dwight J. Loving was convicted in 1989 of robbing and murdering two cab drivers and attempting to rob a third driver on the same night in 1988. Loving made off with less than $100 from the robberies after he shot the cab drivers in the backs of their heads.
Former Air Force member Andrew Witt is the only airman to currently sit on death row after he was convicted of murdering Senior Airman Andy Schlipesiek and his wife in their home in 2004. Witt allegedly tried to kiss Schlipesiek's wife days before the murder, angering Schlipesiek. Witt was sentenced to death in October 2005.
During his sentencing hearing Witt admitted to the murders and apologized to his victims' parents. "I'm so, so sorry, from the bottom of my being, for taking your son and daughter. To Mr. King, I'm so sorry I hurt you," he said.