ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Notoriety is fleeting at the city jail.
Just a few weeks ago, convicted spy Robert Hanssen was forced to give up his cell to make way for an even more infamous inmate: suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui.
Now Moussaoui occupies the 80-square-foot cell, where he spends 23 hours a day praying and reading the Koran. The five cells around him are kept empty for safety reasons; he rarely uses the television to which he has access, his jailers say.
Dealing with high-profile inmates is nothing new for the Alexandria jail. Located just two blocks from the federal courthouse in Alexandria, the city has a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to keep federal inmates at the jail while awaiting trial. Currently, about 150 of the jail's 400 inmates are federal prisoners.
In the past, inmates have included CIA spy Aldrich Ames, political extremist Lyndon LaRouche, and suspected child killer Gregory Murphy.
Currently, the jail holds about a dozen inmates connected to the government's terrorism investigation. They include Mohamed Abdi, scheduled for release next week despite the government's concerns about his alleged terrorist links.
There's a strong likelihood that American Taliban John Walker Lindh will be jailed in Alexandria as well.
Also incarcerated is Agus Budiman, who has been detained since his arrest Nov. 19 and still has not been indicted by a federal grand jury. The government believes Budiman helped an alleged associate of Usama bin Laden fraudulently obtain a Virginia ID card.
Budiman's attorney, Bill Moffitt, told The Washington Post that his client has been treated poorly at the jail. He is kept in isolation 22 hours a day, and only permitted to make phone calls between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. He has also had difficulty breathing and been treated for stress, Moffitt said.
"It's ridiculous. ... He's been reduced to giving up his food to other inmates to get to me" through them, said Moffitt.
But others say the jail is well run and has not been disrupted by the presence of so many high-profile inmates.
"The Alexandria jail is a very professionally run operation," said Melinda Douglas, the city's public defender. "Everything is going along as normal. I'm sure they're challenged, but I haven't noticed any concern, fear or anxiety on the part of incarcerated clients."
Outside the jail, security tightened even more once the jail learned it would be holding Moussaoui. Chain-link fences topped with barbed wire sprang up around the perimeter of the Public Safety Center, which also houses the city police department. Jersey barriers line the entrance, and entry into the building is controlled at a checkpoint manned by sheriff's deputies.
Sheriff James Dunning, a Democrat elected to the post 16 years ago, has never had an escape, suicide or fatality at the jail under his watch.
He said Moussaoui "is being very well managed, very well supervised."
Moussaoui is constantly watched on a closed-circuit security camera. For one hour each day, he is escorted from his cell for shower and exercise. When he is taken to federal court, the entire jail is locked down.
"He does everything alone," Dunning said.