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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Elizabeth Smart speaks at the federal courthouse after the sentencing of Brian David Mitchell in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — Convicted Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Brian David Mitchell has been placed in a federal prison in Arizona.

Mitchell, 57, is serving his life prison sentence at the federal facility in Tucson, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross said Friday.

Salt Lake County Jail officials said Mitchell spent 1,861 days in the jail before he was transferred into the custody of federal marshals on Aug. 31.

Ross said Mitchell was booked into the prison in Tucson on Wednesday. In the interim, he was in the custody of U.S. marshals who transport hundreds, if not thousands, of inmates on a daily basis.

"(Mitchell) was in the pipeline to move from point A to point B, but it's on the marshals' schedule," Ross said. "It's not unusual for an inmate to take several days to arrive at federal prison."

Inmates are placed according to their score on a Federal Bureau of Prisons designation classification process, which looks at the crime for which someone is convicted, their criminal history and violence, according to Ross. Medical needs are also a consideration, as is the recommendation of the sentencing judge.

"But overarching all of that is placing the individual in the most secure facility," Ross said.

Mitchell was placed in a prison for inmates with high security classifications. Ross said prison officials also attempt to place inmates within a 500-mile radius of their families.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball sentenced Mitchell in May on charges stemming from the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. Mitchell kidnapped the then-14-year-old girl at knifepoint from her Federal Heights home in 2002.

In court, Smart described her time with Mitchell and his now-estranged wife, Wanda Barzee, as "nine months of hell." The pair held the then-14-year-old girl captive and in disguise, threatening to harm her and her family if she attempted to escape. She testified that she was raped almost daily.

Barzee is currently serving time in a federal medical center in Texas, which, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, "provides specialized medical and mental health services to female offenders." Barzee's projected release date is April 2016.

Smart has since served a mission for the LDS Church in France and taken a position as a correspondent on ABC News, commenting on missing persons cases for the network's various news programs.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam