[Ppnews] Daniel McGowan and the CMU
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 18 13:32:59 EST 2008
Please take the time to read this important update.
Over the past two years, the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons
has quietly opened at least two new prison units that severely
restrict inmates' ability to communicate with the outside world.
These units were opened either without the legally required public
comment period or, there is good reason to believe, in spite of it.
In April 2006, the Bureau proposed a strict new set of regulations
for people involved with (not necessarily convicted in)
investigations of "terrorism," and a public comment period followed.
After a strong outcry from civil liberties advocates and other
groups, the proposal appeared to be dropped. In December 2006,
however, several men -- almost all of whom were Arab Muslims -- were
moved from the prisons in which they had been residing to a new
"Communications Management Unit " (CMU) housed at the U.S.
Penitentiary in Terre Haute, which looked remarkably like the unit
that the Bureau had proposed1. There was no public comment period for the CMU.
In May of 2008, several men were moved without warning to what is
believed to be the second CMU in the federal prison system -- this
one located at the US Penitentiary in Marion, IL. Again, none of
these men were given any notice that they would be moved, and it was
not until they arrived at the CMU there that there was any public
acknowledgment that the CMU existed. The rules at the second CMU are
the same as those at Terre Haute. One striking difference is that
there are at least two non-Arab men in residence -- one of them being
Once the news broke that the facilities had opened, CMU's came under
immediate criticism for segregating inmates on the basis of religion
and ethnicity and for punishing low-risk inmates by almost
eliminating their ability to talk on the phone to loved ones, see
them in person, or correspond to them through letters in a timely
fashion. Inmates at the CMU's are allowed only one phone call per
week, which is limited to 15 minutes, and which must be conducted in
English. All mail that is sent or received is scrutinized and any
mail written in languages other than English must be translated and
transcribed before it is sent or received by an inmate. Visits take
place behind glass and are limited to four hours each month. They
must also be conducted in English. These restrictions are devastating
to all of the inmates, who now have almost no contact with loved ones
and very little ability to keep up with events in the outside world;
the restrictions are particularly damaging to those whose first
language is not English. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons continues to have
very little to say publicly about the CMU's. The information we have
is based on a few investigative articles about the CMU at Terre
Haute1, 2 and on what we have learned from the inmates themselves. We
need to know more. We need to know what is happening inside federal
institutions that hold over 200,000 inmates and which may or may not
be following the regulations that govern them. Please encourage local
media in your area to investigate especially if you live near a
federal correctional institution. Write letters to the editor and
talk to you friends.
For links to the cited sources and for more information, please go here:
Read the recent Eugene Weekly article on the CMUs here:
Bookmark this page as we will continue to update it with important
information as it comes in.
Thanks for your continued support,
Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan
(Note: Daniel is currently in transit and will be on his way back to
Marion in the next month. We will send out a new address when we
find out where he is next. As of today, he is still in Wisconsin, but
will most likely be held over at a number of facilities before
arriving back in Marion. Check updates for
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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