GOVERNMENT SEGREGATES MUSLIM PRISONERS, RESTRICTS PHONE CALLS AND VISITS
Legal authorities are charging that racial profiling is responsible for low-risk Muslim prisoners convicted for crimes the Justice Department intimates are terror-related being held in a segregated unit where their communications are more severely restricted than high-profile inmates such as al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui and Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski.
The facility is known as the Communications Management Unit (CMU), and is located in the medium security Federal prison at Terre Haute, Indiana. Its occupants are almost entirely Muslims.
Under the CMU program, telephone communications must be conducted using monitored phone lines, be live-monitored by staff, are subject to recording, and must be in English only. All letters must be reviewed by staff prior to delivery or sending. Visits must be non-contact only, also live-monitored, and subject to recording in English. Telephone calls and mail are monitored, the number of phone calls limited and visits are restricted to a total of four hours per month, according to special rules enforced by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons.
Most Federal inmates are granted 300 minutes of telephone time per month. At the CMU, the policy is one 15 minute call per week, and this can be reduced in the Warden’s discretion to three minutes once a month.
Federal inmates are also ordinarily granted all-day visiting every week or every other week. CMU grants only two hours at a time, twice a month, with no physical contact, with inmate and visitor situated on opposite sides of a plexiglass window.
While critics of the CMU acknowledge that prison officials have the right to monitor inmates’ communications with the outside world, they charge that there are important problems with the CMU, including a lack of public notice about its formation and a lack of clarity about how inmates are chosen to be sent there. They also complain that the unit’s communication restrictions are unduly harsh for inmates not considered high security risks.