Access to Legal Telephone Calls Denied

June 18, 2003

A September 11 detainee at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) who was arrested on September 26, 2001. He said he was originally arrested after the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a search warrant for his apartment. He was suspected of social security fraud, insurance fraud, and credit card fraud. He also was suspected of working with others in a scheme to provide funds to al Qaeda. He was immediately transferred to INS custody and spent approximately one day at the INS Varick Street Service Processing Center. He told us he was never informed as to why he was arrested but said he later pleaded guilty to marriage fraud. 

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Based on the Legal Call Log, the detainee was not offered a legal call until October 15, 2001. That call was listed as a completed 10-minute call. According to the Legal Call Log, the detainee was not offered his next legal call until November 7, 2001, which the Administrative Maximum Special Housing Unit Counselor recorded as being refused by the detainee. The log showed that on December 17, 2001, the detainee made his next legal call, the result of which was an incomplete "no answer." This detainee refused three legal call offers in January 2002, according to weekly memoranda that recorded the detainees who did not wish to make a legal call. 

The detainee told us that he was given a pro bono attorney list by MDC staff in October 2001. He stated that he tried to contact several legal services providers on the list, but received no responses when he called the numbers listed. He denied being offered the opportunity to make a legal phone call in November 2001.

The detainee also stated that he was not allowed to make a call to his sister for the first three months he was incarcerated at the MDC. He said that in December 2001, he finally contacted his sister and that by mid-January 2002, his sister had obtained legal representation for him, approximately four months after he entered the MDC.

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