Feds Put Stricter Limits On Inmates In “Communications Management Units”


In 2006 and 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons created new restrictive units for terrorists or other inmates they feared might coordinate crimes from behind bars. The Communication Management Units (CMUs) were designed to monitor and restrict inmates' communication with the outside world. The units, at Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion, Illinois, operated largely in secret, without any formal policies or procedures in place until last week, the Marshall Project reports. On January 22, the bureau finalized rules nearly five years in the making on who can be sent to the CMUs and how the facilities should operate.

Prisoner advocates argue that the rules impose even stricter limits on contact without providing a legitimate way for inmates to appeal being placed under such restrictions. “What this rule does is codify the harsh communication restrictions in place,” said Alexis Agathocleous of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has filed suit over the units. “What [it] doesn't do is correct numerous procedural violations. When you draw your designation criteria so broadly and you don't have robust processes for prisoners to protest, you create a situation that's ripe for abuse.” Inmates and their lawyers have criticized the units, known as “Little Guantanamo,” for targeting Muslims. About 60 percent of inmates in CMUs are Muslim.

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