Friday 21 January 2011
by: William Fisher, t r u t h o u t |
If you are unlucky enough to be doing time at one of the federal government’s two “experimental prisons” – which it calls Communications Management Units (CMUs) – you are categorically banned from any physical contact with visiting friends and family, including babies, infants and minor children. You may not hug, touch or embrace your children or spouses during visits.
Severe restrictions are also placed on your access to phone calls and letters, as well as work and educational opportunities. Transfers to the CMU are not explained, nor are prisoners told how to earn release into less restrictive confinement, as there is no review process. Lawyers say that because these transfers are not based on facts or discipline for infractions, a pattern of religious and political discrimination and retaliation for prisoners’ lawful advocacy has emerged.
When the BOP announced the first CMU in 2007, they said its purpose was “to house inmates who, due to their current offense, conduct, or other verified information, require increased monitoring of communications with persons in the community to ensure the safe, secure and orderly running of BOP facilities and to protect the public.”
But the CCR disputes that statement. “These units are an experiment in social isolation,” said a CCR attorney. “People are being put in these extraordinarily restrictive units without being told why and without any meaningful review. Dispensing with due process creates a situation ripe for abuse; in this case, it has allowed for a pattern of religious profiling, retaliation and arbitrary punishment. This is precisely what the rule of law and the Constitution forbid.”
The CCR says that upward of two-thirds of the prisoners confined there are Muslims – a figure that overrepresents the proportion of Muslim prisoners in BOP facilities by at least 1,000 percent. Many of the remaining prisoners have unpopular political views, including environmental activists designated as “ecoterrorists.”
The CCR says most of those other prisoners appear to have been transferred to the CMU because of other protected First Amendment activities, such as speaking out on social justice issues or filing grievances in prison or court regarding conditions and abuse.
see the rest of the article, from truthout…