The Center for Constitutional Rights will host a panel discussion next Tuesday in San Francisco on the subject of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. It’s free and open to the public, and Solitary Watch is a co-sponsor. Panelists include Dr. Terry Kupers, a leading expert on the psychological effects of solitary, whose writing has appeared here on Solitary Watch; Keramet Reiter, whose work on California’s supermax prisons is well worth reading; and activist Eddy Zheng, who served nearly twenty years for a crime committed when he was sixteen; as well as representatives of CAIR and the CCR.
ISOLATION UNITS WITHIN U.S. PRISONS: A PANEL DISCUSSION
Tuesday, April 5
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
The Women’s Building, Audre Lorde Room
3543 18th Street #8
San Francisco, California
Alexis Agathocleous, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights;
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-San Francisco Bay Area;
Dr. Terry Kupers, M.D.;
Keramet Reiter, JD, PhD Candidate Berkeley Law; and
Eddy Zheng, Prisoner Rights Advocate.
Moderated by Sara Norman, Attorney, Prison Law Office.
High on the agenda, no doubt, will be the two federal prison units called “Communications Management Units” (CMUs), where inmates’ phone calls, visits, and all communications with the outside world are severely restricted. The CCR challenged the constitutionality of the CMUs in a lawsuit filed a year ago. The two “experimental” units, at Marion and Terre Haute, were secretly created by the federal Bureau of Prisons during the Bush Administration, and have remained intact under the Obama Administration. They are supposedly designed to hold high-risk inmates, including terrorists, whose crimes warrant heightened monitoring of their external and internal communications. But the reality, the CCR asserts, is that many prisoners end up in the CMUs “for their constitutionally protected religious beliefs, unpopular political views, or in retaliation for challenging poor treatment or other rights violations in the federal prison system.”
Just this week, a federal judge ruled that the CCR’s lawsuit could move forward, rejecting the government’s motion to dismiss. Earlier this month, an excellent piece on the CMUs appeared in The Nation under the title “Gitmo in the Heartland.”