Muhammad whiles away confinement

John Allen Muhammad requested a Bible not the Quran that would be expected of a Muslim convert when he came to Prince William County as a prisoner last fall.

The 42-year-old suspect in the sniper shootings that terrorized the region in October spends his days alone in a small cell on the third floor of the Prince William-Manassas regional jail.

The Bible and some scattered mail are his only reading material.

Muhammad, also known as John Allen Williams, and his partner Lee Boyd Malvo, 18, are accused of killing 10 people in a three-week October rampage.

His cell is in the super-maximum security wing behind a heavy metal door at the end of the maximum security corridor.

On Tuesday morning, Muhammad could be seen through the dense glass on his cell door.

He faced the outer hallway, his head in his hands, elbows rested on his knees.

He wore a long white T-shirt that covered his shorts, and had some scruffy facial hair. His skinny legs were exposed.

When he looked up he held his gaze in an icy, piercing stare and soon disappeared from the view.

Muhammad spends 23 hours each day in the cell. For one hour per day, he is allowed to walk around the super-maximum security cell block by himself, according to jail Superintendent Col. Glendell Hill.

It is then that he showers, in a small space covered by an off-white curtain. A stainless steel toilet with only a rim that is curved inward and contoured stands on the other side of the 10 by 30 foot room.

There are two other inmates, whom Hill would not identify, in super-maximum confinement.

They each utilize the space at different times of day. And they sometimes banter back and forth through the doors, he said.

Muhammad and the others have no television and no radio. The jail’s roaming library cart does not go to their wing. They are not eligible for special programs.

If Muhammad tires of his Bible, and wants a specific book, he has to make a request that Hill must personally approve.

“The only request I would look at is something legal, out of the law library,” Hill said.

Muhammad keeps to himself, and rarely says anything, Hill said. When he first arrived at the jail, he was more quiet. Over time, he has opened up a little more.

But not much.

“He just reflects,” Hill said.

His day begins at 6:30 a.m., when a vegetarian breakfast is brought to his cell. Lunch is served at 11:30, and dinner at around 4 p.m.

Muhammad asked for the vegetarian meals, which are prepared by other inmates in assembly line fashion. The meals are labeled before being delivered on a tray. Inmates receive between 3,000 and 3,200 calories per day, by state mandate, Hill said.

Muhammad receives mail, but not a significant amount. He rejects most of it, choosing not to read what people send. The rejected letters are kept unopened and on file at the jail where his attorneys could access them if given permission by their client.

He does not write letters either, even though he could if he wanted to, Hill said. He could even write to Lee Boyd Malvo.

Muhammad is always very respectful of the prison staff, and has never threatened anyone, or had any verbal disagreements in jail, Hill said.

Master Jail Officer Tim Callahan, guarding a wing of the third floor, said Muhammad is “always respectful,” and “kind of quiet.”

Every two weeks, Muhammad undergoes a classification review, similar to the process he underwent when originally booked.

His vital signs are assessed, as are his weight, hearing and other things. He certifies that he has been given access to a staff adviser, among other points covered.

Hill sat down with Muhammad when he was first admitted to the jail and explained what would be expected of the inmate. It is not unusual for him to do so, in order that prisoners know who is in charge of the jail, he said. Muhammad was understanding, Hill said.

There are three 10 feet by 10 feet conference rooms on the lower level of the jail where prisoners meet with their attorneys. When Muhammad’s attorney, Peter D. Greenspun visits, the two meet in that area also.

Staff writer Daniel Drew can be reached at (703) 878-8065.

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