In one of his few contacts with the outside world since detained Dec. 14, local Muslim leader Rabih Haddad sent a letter to Andrew Thayer of the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism this week that was released to the public yesterday. In the letter, Haddad described his 54 square foot cell inside the Chicago Metropolitan Corrections Center where he has been held for the past three weeks.
“The bed is a metal slab with four legs bolted to the floor and fitted on all four corners with special fittings to hold straps if it should become necessary. I have a camera fixed on me right outside my door that has completely deprived me of any kind of privacy,” Haddad wrote.
Haddad also talked about the sanitation conditions in the prison.
“I am allowed three showers a week for which I have to be cuffed to walk 10 paces to the shower that has a door similar to my cell”s door,” Haddad wrote. “I forgot to mention the waves of cockroaches that invade the cell at night and crawl all over everything including me.”
Haddad, who is being charged with a visa violation, is waiting to appear in front of a grand jury, where he may be asked questions about the charity he co-founded, the Global Relief Foundation, and its possible connections to terrorism.
Despite the conditions, prison has not dampened Haddad”s spirit.
“All of this has done nothing but harden my will and strengthened my resolve to overcome and persevere,” he said.
The federal government is still refusing to comment on any aspect of Haddad”s case, including his incarceration.
Clarence Cranford Jr., public information officer for the Chicago Metropolitan Corrections Center would not give details on Haddad”s incarceration, but did say the prison is certified.
“The conditions of confinement of any inmate is not public information,” he said. “Our institution is accredited by the American Correctional Association and the Joint Commission Accreditation of health care organizations.”
In response to Haddad”s letters, Robert Verdeyne, director of standards and accreditation for the American Correctional Association, said that, while he was surprised about the issues of sanitation and telephone rights, he thought no aspect of Haddad”s confinement was illegal.
“They”re complying with standards that are nationally recognized, that meet or exceed constitutional minima I don”t know if he has a constitutional right to talk to his family on the telephone. That”s a privilege,” he said.
Nazih Hassan, vice president of the Muslim Community Association in Ann Arbor and Haddad family friend, said that Haddad is not being treated like someone who has not committed a crime.
“For a technical visa violation and with exemplary behavior, he has never exhibited any violent behavior in prison. We think this treatment is totally unconstitutional. It seems that they”re trying to intimidate him and break his spirit. If they think there is some danger to that, we think that there should be a basis to that,” he said.