Ahmed Abu Ali - Guilty of Being Muslim at the Wrong Time in America - by Stephen Lendman
Writing on May 12 in Alternet.org, Mariam Abu Ali headlined, "My Brother Faces a Lifetime of Solitary Confinement on a Spurious Terror Conviction," saying:
He "spent the past five years in solitary confinement, under 23-hour lockdown, in a 7 x 12 cell," and overall has been treated horrifically "in a dungeon, over 20 meters beneath the ground."
An April article by this writer explained what they're like - click here Material from it is repeated below.
Abu Ali wasn't charged or convicted for violence. He's not at Guantanamo or secret detainment abroad. He's in Florence, CO Supermax hell, like state-run facilities the only federal one evolving from a "get tough on crime" philosophy to keep hardened offenders separate from others, the greater prison population safer, and the public secure knowing these prisons are escape-proof. Over the last two decades, nearly 60 were built in over 40 states, currently for over 20,000 inmates.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Corrections calls the term "supermax" the most common one to describe "special housing unit(s), maxi-maxi, maximum control facilit(ies), secured housing unit(s), intensive management unit(s), and administrative maximum penitentiar(ies.)." It describes them as:
"a highly restrictive, high-custody housing unit within a secure facility....that isolates inmates from the general prison population and from each other due to grievous crimes, repetitive assaultive or violent institutional behavior, the threat of escape or actual escape from high-custody facility(s), or inciting or threatening to incite disturbances in a correctional institution."
Their cost to build and operate is two to three times more than for a conventional prison. They have high-tech security features. Walls, floors, ceilings and doors are built out of reinforced materials. Complex electronic systems minimize officer-inmate contact. Moving inmates requires multiple officers. They're confined in windowless single cells about 7 by 12 feet for up to 23 hours a day, with a shower and concrete bed. The staff-to-prisoner ratio is much higher than in conventional prisons. Inmates have few if any programs. Very little constructive activity is offered on a daily basis. Few visits are allowed, though almost none directly.
Overall, there's very little human contact. Most inmates are incarcerated for life but other sentences are determinate. No federal entry or release standard is observed. Some states use Supermax facilities for different reasons, including when a shortage of segregation beds exist elsewhere.
Those in them describe the experience with horror because long-term isolation contributes to anti-social behavior and mental illness, so released inmates may be violent and unemployable. Yet proponents say they're the most effective way to deal with dangerous offenders. Opponents believe they do more harm than good, and the expense compounds the problem.
They're for society's most incorrigible (or ones authorities want to punish for political or other reasons) on the notion that solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, and punitive treatment will change behavior, only for the worst according to experts.
The facilities are extremely harsh. They crush the human spirit, mind and body through isolation and cruelty enough to turn ordinary inmates into sociopaths. Physical abuse and extreme deprivation are common, inflicted as punishment. Inmate contact with staff is restricted and none allowed with other prisoners. They're confined in windowless cells 23 hours a day, have no work, social contact, education, recreation, rehabilitation or personal privacy. Nearly everything is delivered - food, medical supplies and other materials. Outside their cells, they're escorted by 4-man teams, painfully handcuffed and shacked. Inside, they're treated like caged animals.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Charges
On February 22, 2005, a DOJ press release announced a six-count indictment, charging Abu Ali with:
-- conspiracy to provide material support and resources to Al Qaeda;
-- providing material support and resources to Al Qaeda;