This week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted comments to the federal BOP on behalf of prisoners housed in two experimental prison units. The Communications Management Units (CMUs) were designed to isolate and segregate certain prisoners in the federal prison system and they are located in Indiana and Illinois. The Center is working in coalition with CMU prisoners, their family members and friends, civil rights and civil liberties groups, legal providers, psychologists, former prison wardens, environmental advocacy organizations, criminal defense attorneys and community and faith-based organizations to urge the BOP to close the CMUs. In March, CCR filed a federal lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional nature of the units. Learn more about Aref, et al. v. Holder, et al.
These prisoners include those with "unpopular" political views, such as environmental activists. These prisoners' communications with family, friends and the outside world are severely limited, and they are also cruelly deprived of physical contact with loved ones during the few visits they do receive. CMU prisoners are singled out for harsh treatment without any disclosure of the BOP's reasons and without due process - a clear example of abuse of power, retaliation and racial and religious profiling.
While the BOP secretly created the CMUs in 2006 and 2008, it has only just now opened up a period for comments from the public - as required by law. The deadline to submit public comments is Monday, June 7, 2010.
The time is now to stand for justice and oppose the CMUs. Tell the BOP to stop isolating prisoners in experimental units today.
You can submit your comments online or through the mail, and you can submit anonymously.
Deadline: June 7, 2010
Submit your comment online:
Click here or visit: http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480ad11c7. Select the "Submit Comment" button. You can upload a document or type in your comments.
Submit your comment through the mail:
If you submit comments via regular mail, please send them to the following address and include the following docket number in your correspondence.
BOP DOCKET #1148-P COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT UNITS
Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534
We encourage you to emphasize the issues that matter most to you. (Click here to download a template letter.)
Here's a suggested list of ideas you can raise:
- Lack of due process at the CMU: None of the CMU prisoners have been told why they were designated to the CMU, or what evidence was used to make that decision. They have received no hearing to challenge their CMU designation. Likewise, there is no meaningful review process to earn their way out of the CMU. This lack of transparency deprives prisoners of their due process rights.
- Overrepresentation of Muslim and political prisoners at the CMU: Because there is no oversight procedure of who gets sent to the CMU and why, there has been an unchecked pattern of Muslim prisoners and politically active prisoners being sent to the CMU. Somewhere between 65 and 72% of prisoners at the CMU are Muslim. Others are, and have been, politically active. Their designation to the CMU is both discriminatory and retaliatory.
- Destructive effect of the CMU on families: The meager number of phone calls and visits that CMU prisoners receive, and the blanket ban on physical contact with loved ones – including children – during visits tears families apart and inflicts pointless suffering of the prisoners and their families alike.
- Conditions at the CMU amount to cruel and unusual punishment: The isolation experienced by CMU prisoners, and the ways in which they are prevented from maintaining their family ties, is cruel and serves no legitimate purpose.