About two years ago the Third Circuit Court of New Jersey ruled that the Security Investigation Division (SID) could not keep prisoners inside of Management Control Units (MCU) without a way to get out of the unit. And now, two years after this ruling, New Jersey SID has found a new tactic for keeping prisoners in MCU.
A quick summary of what MCU is, for those who do not know. MCU is 4 special housing units meant for high security prisoners in New Jersey. These are generally high-level gang members, with vast networks and influence, cop killers or people who killed people in prison, escape artists, radical prisoners, etc.
A prisoner in MCU cannot go to the law library; he has to write a request slip and await for someone to come see him. He cannot be in contact with other General Population (GP) prisoners. His visits are much more restricted. You can't get college courses or other things that GP could get. And you have no movement.
SID had been keeping some prisoners back in MCU for 10, 20, and even over 30 years! Sometimes more! But as said above the Third Circuit Court ruled this unconstitutional and ordered these prisoners released.
After this ruling, prisoners were shipped all around the country and often put in the same conditions in the new states they were placed in. And since then SID has found a new tactic to fill MCU back up again, by placing high level prisoners that go to Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for any infraction, no matter how minor, on an MCU tier for Ad-Seg. And when their Ad-Seg time is up SID places them on Involuntary Protective Custody (IPC). And the reason they cite is rival gang threats.
SID has done this now to about 20 people and this new tactic is spreading rapidly. Grievances, writeups, complaints, and inquiries have all gone nowhere. New efforts now must be taken in the courts to address this which may take years, and will be much harder now that SID can argue that they are doing it for the safety of prisoners.
MIM(Prisons) responds: New Jersey is following in the footsteps of other state DOCs that have lost court battles regarding long-term isolation of prisoners, only to come up with new work-arounds to lock up people in long-term segregation. It is important that we continue to expose the torture by control units, be they called MCU, Ad-Seg, SHU, IPC or by any other name. There is no justification for long-term isolation, regardless a prisoner's conviction, conflicts behind bars, lumpen organization history, or escape attempts. Torture is inhumane and can not be tolerated under any circumstances.
Our campaign to shut down prison control units has been going on for many years, and unfortunately it is no closer to victory than it was when we initiated the campaign. As long as prisons are a tool for social control for the imperialist state we're unlikely to win this campaign overall. But sometimes battles are won in court, which both help to expose the isolation as torture and help provide relief to some prisoners.