[Ppnews] Daniel McGowan - Urgent Appeal from a Secret Prison

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 21 15:02:49 EDT 2010

<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-mcgowan>Daniel McGowan

Posted: May 21, 2010 09:21 AM

Urgent Appeal from a Secret Prison

After three years in prison and hundreds 
(thousands, even) of letters mailed out, I have 
gotten to the point where there is little to 
write about. Prison life is remarkably static­so 
unchanging in its daily routine­that news 
resonates here in a pronounced way. The early 
part of April brought some major announcements 
that will profoundly affect my life here in the 
Bureau of Prison's 
Management Unit (CMU). Finally, my friends will 
be saved from the endless litany of letters about 
what TV shows I watch, Prison drama, my workouts 
and books I have read that week!

In February, after completing 18 months of "clear 
conduct" here, I requested a transfer to a 
"normal" prison (that is, one without punitive 
restrictions on my contact with the outside 
world). My request was denied on April 5th and 
did not come as a major shock. The written 
rejection notice did not offer a reason for my 
denial; instead just informing me that I can 
apply again at my next "program review." I am not 
the only one who has had my transfer request 
denied and who faces the paradox of being held 
here without any explanation why. Despite twenty 
months of "clear conduct" (the BoP term for no 
disciplinary sanctions) and participation in 
classes, I am still being held here at the government's discretion.

On March 30th, the 
<http://www.ccrjustice.org/cmu>Center for 
Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed suit on my 
behalf against the BoP regarding this unit (Aref 
v. Holder, D.C. Circuit). The suit raises a 
number of substantial constitutional claims and 
violations of federal law. Also included in the 
suit are fellow prisoners at this CMU, the other 
CMU at Terre Haute, my wife Jenny and another 
prisoner's wife. The suit is asking for 
injunctive relief--that the court intervene and 
fix these constitutional violations. While this 
is a positive step in addressing the massive 
problems with the concept of the Communication 
Management Unit, the journey through the courts 
is a slow and somewhat tedious affair.

Just one week after the lawsuit was filed, the 
Bureau of Prisons released proposed rules for the 
CMU, opening a 60-day comment period for the 
Docket # 1148-P, Communication Management Units). 
The unfortunate part of this proposal is that 
they represent a huge reduction in communication 
for prisoners. The new rules would set the following standards:

1) Only one phone call per month (to immediate family).
2) Only one hour, non-contact, visit per month (with immediate family).
3) Only one, 3 page letter, to and from a single recipient per week.

These rules are remarkable and fly in the face of 
the BoP's supposed ideas on the positive aspects 
of communication between prisoners and their 
community, family members and friends. The 
proposed rules are far worse than the current 
conditions, and current conditions are bad 
enough. I can assure you that attempting to 
maintain healthy, close relationships on 2 phone 
calls a week and 8 hours of non-contact visits a 
month is exceedingly difficult and expensive. (My 
family lives 1,100 miles from this prison 
creating bills of $600+ for a two day trip). The 
irony is that most of the men in this unit do not 
even have communication violations so why the 
reason for the new rules? Normally, a government 
agency (such as the BoP) proposes rules before 
implementing a policy. In this case, the CMU has 
been in operations for nearly three years. Not 
only is that an obvious violation of federal law 
but the proposed rules have an air of mean-spiritedness and retribution.

You can submit public comment on these proposed 
rules easily online at 
or by reading the rules online and sending your comments to:

Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel
Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW.
Washington, DC 20534

Please be cordial and to the point with your 
comments. If you need help or talking points for 
your comments, do not hesitate to contact the organizations below.
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) 
<http://www.ccrjustice.org>www.ccrjustice.org, 212-614-6480.
Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan 

Daniel McGowan
USP Marion CMU
PO Box 1000
Marion, IL 62959

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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