Posted by on September 01, 2010 in Blog

These are difficult times for Muslims — particularly those in prison in Terre Haute, Indiana or Marion, Illinois. That’s where, in 2006-07, the Federal Bureau of Prisons established a clandestine Communications Management Unit (CMU) to isolate and set apart “dangerous terrorists and other high-risk inmates.”  

Is it a coincidence that more than two-thirds of these “high risk inmates” are Muslim, even though Muslims comprise just 6% of the general population?

Many of the prisoners currently being detained in CMUs have no history of disciplinary problems or communication-related infractions during their incarceration. So what are they guilty of? Being Muslim, apparently. Religious profiling, racism and ignorant fear keep these prisoners isolated.

They were placed in isolation without explanation, with no review or appeals process. In clear contradiction of the Bureau’s policies promoting visitation and contact as important elements of rehabilitation, prisoners are not allowed any physical contact with family members or friends. No hugs for your children, no handshake for your friends. They are permitted just two 15-minute phone conversations per week, less than half the allotment of other prisoners. Letters to and from inmates in CMUs are limited, and they are allowed no interaction with other prisoners. They don’t have the same opportunities to educate themselves or learn a trade so they can become employed and integrated into society when released from prison.

AAI is working in coalition with organizations like the Center for Constitutional Rights to help draw attention to these units and challenge these policies. We’ll keep you posted with opportunities to help us make real change on these policies.