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    Posted May 10, 2009 by
    Brooklyn, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Prison and your family

    Imprisoned in a secret federal prison unit


    My husband, Daniel McGowan, is currently serving his seven-year prison sentence in a special, isolated unit at USP Marion, a federal prison in southern Illinois. Within the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) there are secretive units where the inmates are completely separated from general population called "Communication Management Units."  In 2006, the Department of Justice and BOP illegally (without public comment) established these units to house "terrorists" or those charged with "terrorism," -- primarily Muslim men, yet presently not all the inmates have charges relating to "terrorism." The two prisons with CMUs are FCI Terre Haute and USP Marion, which the inmates refer to as "Little Guantanamo" and where my husband is currently housed.


    Daniel was moved to the CMU at USP Marion in August of last year. At the time there were around a dozen inmates. Now the unit is growing and there are close to 25 with 52 beds total to fill. Daniel had previously been at FCI Sandstone, a low security facility in Minnesota. The judge in his case had recommended this level of designation. He had just received a glowing review from his team at Sandstone and had received no violations or discipline, yet for some reason was abruptly moved last summer without warning. Now with Daniel at the CMU in Marion, our visits are behind glass for four hours a month (when I'm able to get out to Illinois from NYC) and he can only make one phone call a week for a duration of 15 minutes (compared to the standard federal allowance of 300 minutes a month). Both visits and calls can ONLY take place Monday to Friday 8:30-2:30 and NO holidays. There are absolutely no exceptions. As of last week, we haven't been able to hold hands, hug or have any physical contact for a year now. I just want him out of this unit and back in a low security prison so we can truly communicate and be allowed the contact that all humans need.


    There has been very little public attention given to the CMU and few media stories until recently. The Nation and Democracy Now have done stories exposing the CMU. Thankfully Daniel has an enormous amount of supporters - family, friends, and even strangers. We keep working hard to spread the word about his case and what is going on behind the Bureau's closed doors. More information can be found here: http://supportdaniel.org/cmu/.

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