As many readers will know, two federal prisons in the Midwest contain so-called Communications Management Units opened during the Bush years. As described by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has filed a federal lawsuit against the CMUs:
In 2006 and 2008, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP or “Bureau”) secretly created the Communications Management Units (CMUs), prison units designed to isolate and segregate certain prisoners in the federal prison system from the rest of the BOP population. Currently, there are two CMUs, one located in Terre Haute, Indiana and the other in Marion, Illinois. The CMUs house between 60 and 70 prisoners in total, and over two-thirds of the CMU population is Muslim, even though Muslims represent only 6 percent of the general federal prison population.
Unlike other BOP prisoners, individuals detained in the CMUs are completely banned from any physical contact with visiting family members and friends. Other types of communication are also severely limited, including interactions with other prisoners and phone calls with friends and family members.
Individuals detained in the CMUs receive no meaningful explanation for their transfer to the unit or for the extraordinary communications restrictions to which they are subjected. Upon designation to the unit, there is no meaningful review or appeal process that allows CMU prisoners to be transferred back to general population.
Many CMU prisoners have neither significant disciplinary records nor any communications-related infractions. However, bias, political scapegoating, religious profiling and racism keep them locked inside these special units. The Bureau’s purpose and process for designating federal prisoners to the CMUs remain undisclosed to the public.
Yesterday, No Separate Justice received the following email from our colleague Daniel McGowan, who spent time in Marion’s CMU: “You may remember that the original comment period of 2010 netted 700+ letters and emails against the restrictions outlined in the proposal. The Department of Justice ended the comment period and has sat on their hands since then in terms of getting actual legal approval to run the CMUs. As someone who was at Marion CMU during this time, I can tell you that knowing people out there cared enough to put their concerns in writing on our behalf was heartening and reenergized my efforts to close the CMUs. The BoP has opened public comment period for just two weeks. Please check out the links below and send a clear message to them about these units and how they should be closed immediately.”
The following document, which appears online here, provides full instructions on how to submit comments. The deadline for submitting comments is March 25.
Communication Management Units
This Proposed Rule document was issued by the Federal Prisons Bureau (BOP)
For related information, Open Docket Folder
Proposed rule; Notice to Reopen Comment Period.
In this document, the Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) reopens the comment period of the proposed rule published on April 6, 2010 (75 FR 17324) which proposed to establish and describe Communication Management Units (CMUs) by regulation. We now reopen the comment period for fifteen (15) additional days in order to allow inmates and interested parties additional opportunity to comment.
Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before March 25, 2014. Comments received by mail will be considered timely if they are postmarked on or before that date. The electronic Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) will accept comments until Midnight Eastern Time at the end of that day.
Written comments should be submitted to the Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, 320 First Street NW., Washington, DC 20534. You may view an electronic version of this regulation at *www.regulations.govhttp://www.regulations.gov. You may also comment by using the www.regulations.gov comment form for this regulation. When submitting comments electronically you must include the BOP Docket No. in the subject box.
For Further Information Contact
Sarah Qureshi, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, phone 202.307.2105.
Posting of Public Comments
Please note that all comments received are considered part of the public record and made available for public inspection online at www.regulations.gov. Such information includes personal identifying information (such as your name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter.
If you want to submit personal identifying information (such as your name, address, etc.) as part of your comment, but do not want it to be posted online, you must include the phrase “PERSONAL IDENTIFYING INFORMATION” in the first paragraph of your comment. You must also locate all the personal identifying information you do not want posted online in the first paragraph of your comment and identify what information you want redacted.
If you want to submit confidential business information as part of your comment but do not want it to be posted online, you must include the phrase “CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS INFORMATION” in the first paragraph of your comment. You must also prominently identify confidential business information to be redacted within the comment. If a comment has so much confidential business information that it cannot be effectively redacted, all or part of that comment may not be posted on www.regulations.gov.
Personal identifying information identified and located as set forth above will be placed in the agency’s public docket file, but not posted online. Confidential business information identified and located as set forth above will not be placed in the public docket file. If you wish to inspect the agency’s public docket file in person by appointment, please see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT paragraph.
In this document, the Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) reopens the comment period of the proposed rule published on April 6, 2010 (75 FR 17324) (2010 proposed rule) which proposed to establish and describe Communication Management Units (CMUs) by regulation. We now reopen the comment period for fifteen (15) additional days in order to allow inmates and interested parties additional opportunity to comment. We do so in response to current ongoing litigation with which the Bureau has been involved. We reopen the comment period for 15 days instead of the typical 60-day length of a proposed rule comment period because the rule was previously open for a 60-day public comment period in 2010 and we received over 700 comments during that time. We now reopen the comment period for a limited time to allow further comments from interested parties while striving to expedite the regulation development process.
The 2010 proposed rule codifies and describes the Bureau’s procedures for designating inmates to, and limiting communication within, its Communication Management Units (CMU). Currently, the Bureau operates two CMUs, separately located at the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC), Terre Haute, Indiana (established in December 2006), and the United States Penitentiary (USP), Marion, Illinois (established in March 2008). For further information, please see the proposed rule published on April 6, 2010 (75 FR 17324).