[Pnews] Previously-Secret Prison Docs Show Constitutional Violations in Experimental Prison Units

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Apr 28 12:52:23 EDT 2014

  Previously-Secret Prison Docs Show Constitutional Violations in
  Experimental Prison Units

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*Docs Confirm Lack of Due Process in Communications Management Units, 
Attorneys Say*

press at ccrjustice.org

April 23, 2014, Washington D.C./ -- /For the first time, hundreds of 
documents detailing the Bureau of Prisons' process for designating 
prisoners to controversial Communications Management Units (CMUs) are 
public. The documents had been under a protective order in the Center 
for Constitutional Rights (CCR) lawsuit, /Aref v. Holder/ 
<http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/aref-et-al-v-holder-et-al>, since 
CCR filed the case in 2010.

The CMUs were quietly opened in Terre Haute, IN and Marion, IL in 2006 
and 2008, respectively, to monitor and control the communications of 
certain prisoners and to isolate them from other prisoners and the 
outside world.  But the documents revealed today show that the BOP did 
not draft criteria for designating prisoners to the facilities until 
2009 <http://ccrjustice.org/files/SJ%20-%20Exhibit%2046.pdf> and that, 
even then, different offices within the BOP, each of which plays a role 
in the designation process, have a different understanding of the 
criteria. Other documents reveal that the reasons provided 
<http://ccrjustice.org/files/SJ%20-%20Exhibit%2065.pdf> to CMU prisoners 
for their designation were incomplete, inaccurate, and sometimes even 
false <http://ccrjustice.org/files/SJ%20-%20Exhibit%2068.pdf>. Discovery 
in the case also shows that prisoners were told they could earn their 
way out of the CMU by completing 18 months with clear conduct 
but upon meeting that goal, their requests for transfer out of the CMU 
were repeatedly denied without explanation.  Other documents show 
political speech 
<http://ccrjustice.org/files/SJ%20-%20Exhibit%20150.pdf> was used as a 
factor in CMU designation. The documents made public today also show 
that 60 percent of CMU prisoners are Muslim, though Muslims comprise 
only six percent of the federal prisoner population.
"The documents revealed today show that CMU prisoners have been denied 
due process at every step, from designation to review," said CCR Senior 
Staff Attorney Alexis Agathocleous. "The CMUs impose harsh restrictions 
on prisoners, including a ban on even momentarily hugging their 
families. Meanwhile, the BOP has denied hundreds of prisoners, who are 
mostly Muslim, the opportunity to understand or rebut the rationale for 
their placement, or a meaningful review process to earn their way out,"
The documents revealed today also show that decision-makers are not 
required to, and do not, document their reasons for selecting a prisoner 
for CMU placement. As a result, it is effectively impossible for 
prisoners to challenge their designation.
"I was told the reason 
I was moved to CMU was because of 'recruitment and radicalization,' but 
wasn't told anything else. I tried to find out more about these 
allegations so I could challenge my designation 
<http://ccrjustice.org/files/SJ%20-%20Exhibit%2072.pdf>, but to no 
avail," said former plaintiff Avon Twitty, who has been released from 
prison since this lawsuit was filed. "Without knowing what I had 
allegedly done to land in a CMU, I was helpless to challenge those 
allegations and had no hope of being transferred out.  This lawsuit is 
my first opportunity to get to the bottom of my placement in a harsh, 
restrictive, and secretive prison unit."
In addition to heavily restricted telephone and visitation access, CMU 
prisoners are categorically denied any physical contact with family 
members and are forbidden from hugging, touching or embracing their 
children or spouses during visits. The plaintiffs in /Aref/ spent years 
under these conditions without knowing why and were designated to CMUs 
despite having relatively or totally clean disciplinary histories; none 
of the plaintiffs have received any communications-related disciplinary 
infractions in the last decade.
View today's filing here. 
/ /
For further information about CCR's federal lawsuit around CMUs, visit 
the /Aref, et al. v. Holder, et al/ 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=S%2FzEuiLe1E%2FNJSHrWtEQP1IgcSZPLK%2Bg> case 
page or www.ccrjustice.org/cmu <http://www.ccrjustice.org/cmu>.

The law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP 
and attorney Kenneth A. Kreuscher of the Portland Law Collective are 
co-counsel in the case.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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