Skip to main content
Press Release

ADX Inmate Sentenced For Hiding Contraband On His Person

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado

DENVER – Shawn Shields, age 45, and a resident of United States Penitentiary -- Administrative Maximum (ADX) in Florence, Colorado, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn to serve 37 months in federal prison, to run consecutive to his existing sentence for Second Degree Murder.  After completing his prison sentence, Judge Blackburn ordered Shields to serve 3 years on supervised release.  The defendant, who appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, was remanded at its conclusion.  The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Special Investigative Services.

Shields was first indicted on May 5, 2015.  After lengthy litigation the defendant participated in a jury trial that started on February 20, 2018.  The trial lasted three days, when the jury found the defendant guilty of possessing contraband in prison, namely two homemade weapons known as shanks.  He was sentenced yesterday, September 5, 2018.

According to court records as well as statements and testimony given during trial, on March 18, 2015, Shields was incarcerated at ADX in Florence, Colorado.  Specifically, he was housed in the J-Unit, a step-down unit at ADX.  That morning, Shields and another inmate were working out on the lower tier of the J-Unit.  Another inmate was standing near them, but speaking to another inmate through his closed cell door.  A correctional officer heard a confrontation between the inmate speaking at the closed cell yelling “come here and I’ll break your jaw” to someone.  Inmates started to flee, when Shields quickly walked to his cell where he knelt down and appeared to retrieve an item from a rolled up towel.  He then discretely tucked the item into his waistband, and continued to pace the upper tier of the housing unit. After a few minutes the defendant and the inmate involved in the confrontation engaged in a prolonged and casual conversation on the upper level of the housing unit.  The unit was shortly thereafter locked down.

Later that morning, investigators from the Special Investigative Services Department, began to conduct an investigation.  Inmates involved in the incident were sent through a SecurPASS machine, which is a whole body scanner.  When it was Shield’s turn to be scanned, the first few scans showed an object within the lower abdominal area of the defendant’s body.  A correctional officer ordered another scan of Shields, this time with his arms raised higher.  The object was still visible on the scan.  Shields told the officer “if you show it to me on the screen, I will give it up to you.”  Upon viewing the image, the defendant was taken into a separate location.  There he reached his hand down his pants, and retrieved an unknown object from his rectum.  The object, which was covered in blood and feces, was deposited in a plastic bag.  After documenting the new found object, it was unwrapped and photographed.  It became clear that the unknown object was actually a homemade weapon, commonly referred to as a shank.  There was a larger weapon that measured 4.5 inches.  There was also a smaller weapon, resembling a razor blade, measuring 1.5 inches. 

This case was investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Special Investigative Services Department.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Valeria Spencer and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Cook. 


Jeff Dorschner
Spokesman, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
303-454-0243 direct; 303-454-0400 fax

Updated September 6, 2018

Press Release Number: CASE NUMBER: 15-cr-00200