McGowan Released from MDC Prison Friday, Returned to Halfway House
Daniel McGowan is back at the halfway house where he has been residing after a week that was by turns difficult, disturbing and ridiculous. To recap: on Monday, April 1, Daniel published an opinion piece on the Huffington Post titled “Court Documents Prove I Was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for My Political Speech.” On Thursday, April 4, Daniel was picked up by U.S. Marshals from the halfway house and taken into custody at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He was issued an “incident report” indicating that his Huffington Post blog post violated a BOP regulation prohibiting inmates from “publishing under a byline.” The BOP regulation in question was declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 2007, and eliminated by the BOP in 2010. On Friday, April 5, after we brought Daniel’s unjust detention to the BOP’s attention, he was released from MDC, and the incident report was expunged.
That same day, Daniel was provided with a list of prohibited activities by halfway house staff, which he was required to sign. The list forbids him any media contact without BOP approval, though BOP regulations only require preapproval of in-facility interviews. It also prohibits him from publishing any writing of his own without prior BOP permission. As far as we know, this is a made-up rule applied only to Daniel, in a further attempt to chill his freedom of speech.
McGowan, who was released from prison in December and is serving out the last six months of his sentence at a halfway house, is a plaintiff in a Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit, Aref v. Holder, challenging the constitutionality of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) experimental Communications Management Units (CMUs) where he was kept for four years. New documents uncovered in the case indicate he was placed in these highly restrictive experimental units as retaliation for his political writings on current events and issues< while he was in prison.
Aref v. Holder challenges the violation of prisoners’ fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to due process. Attorneys say that because transfer to CMUs are not based on facts or discipline for infractions, a pattern of religious and political discrimination and retaliation for prisoners’ lawful advocacy has emerged. Daniel McGowan recently amended the complaint to include claims of retaliation for First Amendment protected speech.
The law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and attorney Kenneth A. Kreuscher are co-counsel in the case.