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Class Action Suit Against Supermax : Treatment Not Fit for Dogs

A class action has been filed against the Bureau of Prisons and several top officials by 11 mentally ill inmates, on behalf of all mentally ill inmates, alleging horrific mistreatment at Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado. The case is Bacote, et al v. Federal Bureau of Prisons. A website has been set up with information about the case, SuperMaxLawsuit.com. According to the 108 page complaint which alleges deliberate mistreatment:

Some prisoners mutilate their own bodies with razors, shards of glass, sharpened chicken bones, writing utensils and whatever other objects they can obtain. Others swallow razor blades, nail clippers, broken glass and other dangerous objects. Many engage in fits of screaming and ranting for hours on end. Others carry on delusional conversations with the voices they hear in their heads, oblivious to reality and the danger that such behavior might pose to themselves and to anyone who interacts with them.

Still others spread feces and other waste throughout their cells, throw it at the correctional staff and otherwise create health hazards at ADX. Suicide attempts are common; many have been successful."

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Eur. Court Blocks Transfer of Terror Suspects Due to Supermax Concerns

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday blocked the transfer to the U.S. of four suspected terrorists. The grounds: They might get sent to Supermax in Florence, CO which has inhumane conditions.

Egyptian-born Hamza, a former imam of the once-notorious Finsbury Park mosque in north London who has one eye and a hook for one hand, is serving a seven-year jail term for inciting followers to murder non-believers.

The other men in jail awaiting extradition are British nationals Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat and Seyla Talha Ahsan.

Interestingly, the court rejected their claims that their designation as enemy combatants could lead to the death penalty, and that their trials would be unjust. It was the Supermax argument that won the day.

[T]heir complaints "concerning the stringency of conditions there for what could be the rest of their lives, raised serious questions of fact and law". [More...]

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"Shoebomber" Richard Reid Loses Court Bid to Ease Restrictions

A federal judge yesterday dismissed "Shoebomber" Richard Reid's civil lawsuit challenging the conditions of his confinement at Supermax.

(Note: This is an extremely long post because while I don't want to post all the pleadings directly, I think many people who are curious about what life is like at Supermax will be interested in reading the description contained in affidavits by BOP officials in this lawsuit.)

Back in June, I wrote about Richard Reid's lawsuit challenging SAMS's restrictions and noted the Government in a pleading stated the SAMS would not be renewed.

In December, I noted the SAMS had been lifted, Reid had been moved to general population at Supermax, but was still fighting to be able to take Arabic correspondence courses and have greater media access. Reuters has more here. [More...]

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Guantanamo Detainees Don't Warrant Supermax

Criminal defense attorney Gerry Shargel makes the argument today at Daily Beast that isolating Guantanamo detainees in a new Supermax facility may be a worse fate and unnecessary.

Do the untried and unconvicted Guantanamo inmates require this level of security? Absent a particularized showing of need, locking up a "detainee" in virtual isolation—unearned suffering—is abject cruelty.

He does a good job of summarizing the draconian conditions at a supermax facility: [more...]

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Supermax Won't Allow Inmates to Read Obama's Books

This is pretty funny. Officials at Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado have turned down an inmate's request to read the two books written by President Obama. Why?

The federal government's most secure prison has determined two books written by President Barack Obama contain material "potentially detrimental to national security" ....

What standards did the use to make the determination? Ones supplied by the F.B.I. Who requested the books?

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is serving a 30-year sentence at the federal supermax prison in Florence for joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush.

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Canadian Supermax Inmate Also on Hunger Strike

Related to my long post on Shoe Bomber Richard Reid's hunger strike at Supermax in Florence, Colorado, I see that the Canadian press is reporting that convicted terrorist Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, serving life at Supermax, is also on a hunger strike:

Mohammed Mansour Jabarah has refused to eat since mid-April and prison officials are allegedly pumping food into his stomach using a tube inserted in his nose. The convicted al-Qaeda terrorist is protesting restrictions on his mail, his lawyer said, but his father said Jabarah and other Muslim inmates also want to pray together.

The ACLU condemns force-feeding here.

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Will Supermax Become Gitmo of the Rockies?

There's lots of speculation that the Guantanamo detainees may be moved to Supermax at Florence, Colorado, home to the nation's supposedly most dangerous criminals. Not so fast. Right now, there's no room at the inn.

It would probably take the building of a separate facility. Or, the moving of our supposedly most dangerous criminals to prisons in other states.

As for the folks in Florence, many of whom have jobs because of the prison industry there, they have no problem with accomodating the Gitmo detainees:[More...]

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Colo. Governor Suggests Supermax for Gitmo Detainees

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has suggested that Supermax in Florence, Colorado would be appropriate for Guantanamo detainees.

Ritter wouldn't oppose transferring the Guantanamo Bay detainees to Supermax because it was built for just that type of high-risk inmate, Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said today. "If Supermax is chosen, there's no reason to take a 'not in my backyard' approach," Dreyer said.

Not quite. Supermax is for "the worst of the worst" of convicted felons. None of the remaining detainees at Guantanamo has been convicted of a crime yet. [More...]

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Jose Padilla Sent to Supermax

Jose Padilla has been shipped to Supermax in Florence, Colorado, known as Alcatraz of the Rockies. He'll be joining Ted Kaczinski, Eric Rudolph, Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard "shoe bomber" Reid, OKC conspirator Terry Nichols and others. Padilla was convicted in August and sentenced to 17 years. He's got 13 years left.

Padilla attorney Michael Caruso said in an e-mail Friday that Supermax is "a living hell" where inmates spend most days in 7-foot-by-12-foot cells and have little contact with the outside world. Caruso noted that others convicted of supporting terrorism, such as the "Lackawanna Six" group in upstate New York, were not sent to the nation's toughest prison.

Caruso called the decision "yet another example of Jose being treated differently and in a more punitive fashion than others who have been accused of similar crimes. I genuinely fear that Jose's mental health will erode to an even greater degree."

More on the life awaiting Padilla at Supermax below:

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Journalists Get First Tour of Supermax

Denver journalist and CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen was one of a small group of journalists permitted to tour the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado yesterday. It was the first time journalists have been afforded the opportunity.

He didn't get to see the prison's most infamous prisoners like Terry Nichols or Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" but he saw and heard enough to write an interesting article. Some highlights:

We saw cement desks and bed frames and stainless steel toilets and sinks. We saw cages—straight out of the circus—where inmates who are going along with the warden’s “program” are allowed to “recreate” outside for about 10 hours a week. We saw that the windows in the cells are only a few inches wide and all look inward toward the other windows of other cells. No one has a view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains which surround the facility in the southern portion of Colorado.

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Eric Rudolph Says Supermax is Driving Him Insane

The United States has the right to incarcerate convicted offenders. But, does it have the right to torment them, drive them insane or impose conditions of confinement that cause extreme physical disabilities?

No, we're not talking about detainees or Guantanamo. We're talking about Supermax at Florence Colorado, often called Alcatraz of the Rockies.

The latest to complain: Eric Rudolph:

Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph laments in a series of letters that the caged atmosphere of the federal prison where is spending the rest of his life is designed to drive him insane.

Rudolph, who hid out from authorities for five years in the woods of western North Carolina before being captured, says in correspondence with a Colorado newspaper that his surroundings at the Supermax prison are getting to him.

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