The USDB is the U.S. military's only maximum-security facility and houses male service members convicted at court-martial for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Only enlisted prisoners with sentences over seven years, commissioned officers, and prisoners convicted of offenses related to national security are confined to the USDB. Enlisted prisoners with sentences under seven years are housed in smaller facilities, such as the Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Knox, Kentucky or the Marine Corps Brig at Quantico, Virginia.
Guards for the prison are Army "corrections specialists" trained at the U.S. Army Military Police School located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Originally known as the United States Military Prison, the USDB was established by Act of Congress in 1874. Prisoners were used for the majority of construction, which began in 1875 and was completed in 1921. The facility was able to house up to 1,500 prisoners. From 1895 until 1903 prisoners from the USDB were used to construct the nearby United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth until around 400 federal prisoners were moved there to complete the work.
A new 521-capacity facility was built to replace the aging structures and was opened in 2002. Although there was some interest in preserving the old structures, it was deemed to be too expensive and demolition of the old structures began in 2004.
The Fort Leavenworth Military Prison Cemetery serves as the burial site for deceased prisoners that are not claimed by the family members. There were 300 graves dating from between approximately 1894 and 1957, 56 of which are unmarked and 14 more that belong to German prisoners of war executed for the murder of fellow POWs. The German soldiers were executed on two days in 1945 and these were the last mass executions by the United States Government (see Girl Scout Gold Award, Eagle Scout-equivalent, documentation at Prison Cemetery http://www.interment.net/data/us/ks/leavenworth/ftleav_prison/index.htm ).
It is unlikely that there will be further burials at the site as it is expected that the family of the deceased will make funeral arrangements.
The USDB houses the U.S. military's death row inmates. There have been 29 executions at the USDB, including twelve German prisoners of war executed in 1945 for murder. The last execution by the U.S. Military was the hanging of Army Pfc. John A. Bennett, on April 13, 1961, for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl. Bennett's execution took place four years after it was approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. All executions at the USDB thus far have been by hanging, but lethal injection has been specified as the military's current mode of execution. As of 2008-07-29 there are eight prisoners on death row at the USDB, the most recent addition being Andrew P. Witt, the only Air Force member currently on the USDB death row. Of the eight, Jessie Quintanilla and William Kreutzer, Jr. are awaiting retrial or resentencing.
The execution of Army private Ronald A. Gray, on military death row since 1988, was approved by President George W. Bush on 2008-07-28. Gray was convicted of the rape, two murders and an attempted murder of three women, two of them Army soldiers and the third a civilian taxi driver whose body was found on the post at Fort Bragg.