June 15, 2011, New York – Today, as Congressman Peter King leads the House Committee on Homeland Security through the second in a series of hearings examining so-called homegrown Islamic radicalization, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement, which can be attributed to staff attorney Alexi Agathocleous:
This is Representative King’s second attempt to single out Muslim Americans as scapegoats for all domestic extremist violence. By targeting those incarcerated in our federal prison system, the congressman is now preying on a segment of our population with very little ability to advocate on its own behalf.
In fact, the Bureau of Prisons uses the same rhetoric without ever actually disclosing what it means when it accuses a prisoner of “recruitment and radicalization of other inmates.” These unsubstantiated allegations have been used to justify disproportionally assigning Muslim prisoners to two highly restrictive Communication Management Units (CMUs) where prisoners’ communications are so severely restricted they are forbidden any physical contact with visiting family members, including infants.
Some of our clients have been sent to the units despite the fact that they have perfectly clean disciplinary records. These segregated units within the federal prison system deny prisoners many of their constitutional and First Amendment rights. The units deny freedom of religion, speech, and even the right to receive meaningful information regarding the reasons for their assignment to the CMU.
Instead of entertaining sham hearings that only seek to further profile an already-marginalized community, we must reinstate the rule of law and guarantee all prisoners due process.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is currently representing four CMU prisoners along with their family members in the lawsuit Aref et al v. Holder et al. The case, filed against Attorney General Eric Holder, federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials, and the BOP itself, challenges policies and conditions at two experimental prison units operating in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Marion, Illinois.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.