[KH: This is a letter to the BOP by a coalition of organizations concerned about civil liberties concerning the “suppression of prisoner contacts.” We don’t yet know if this program has any relation to the “Communication Management Unit” program that Rafil is being held under. Rafil appears to be getting mail that is sent to him, but since his December 18, 2006 letter no-one has heard from him. He does have one short phone call a week, but no contact visits. And all correspondence must be in English.]

On April 3, 2006, the Bureau of Prisons proposed a new regulation imposing severe restrictions on the ability of persons in Bureau custody to communicate with the outside world. Although the regulation is titled “Limited Communication for Terrorist Inmates,” the regulation can be applied to persons who have not been convicted, or even charged, with any act of terrorism, or indeed with any crime at all.

The regulation provides that a Bureau of Prisons Warden may determine, without external review, that a person in Bureau custody has “an identifiable link to terrorist-related activity.” 28 CFR 540.200(a). Once a person is so designated, his or her communications with the outside world are all but eliminated. More specifically, the prisoner may communicate only with immediate family members, and those communications are limited as follows:

-One six-page letter per week.

-One fifteen-minute telephone call per month.

-One one-hour visit per month.

28 CFR 540.202(a); 540.203(a); 540.204(a)(1). There is no provision for communication with friends, relatives other than immediate family, or members of the news media.1 According to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the regulation is necessary “[t]o minimize the risk of terrorist-related communication being sent to or from inmates in Bureau custody.” 71 Fed. Reg. 16522.

The regulation’s blanket ban on communications with the news media and with most family members is unprecedented and almost certainly unconstitutional. Moreover, this ban will be imposed by prison officials, with no outside review. Finally, the ban is completely unnecessary, as existing law allows the Bureau to monitor the mail, telephone calls, and visits of persons in its custody. Such monitoring fully accommodates legitimate security concerns without trenching so heavily on the First Amendment rights of prisoners and those in the outside world who wish to communicate with them.

For all of these reasons, the regulation should be withdrawn.

To read the piece in full go to: The Multiracial Activist – www.multiracial.com

Even though Rafil cannot write to us, please continue to write to him letting him know that he is not forgotten and that his humanitarian work is appreciated. Rafil Dhafir, 11921-052, FCI Terre Haute, P.O. Box 33, Terre Haute, IN 47808