What it takes to make a visit?

June 18, 2003

One September 11 detainee was held at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) from October 16, 2001, until June 14, 2002. His wife said she experienced repeated problems while attempting to visit her husband. 

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The woman, who took unpaid leave from work to travel from her home in New Jersey to the MDC, said that between October and December 2001 she was told by staff at the MDC visitors' desk that her husband was not incarcerated at the facility when, in fact, he was. When she eventually learned her husband was at the MDC, she visited him for the first time on December 19, 2001, after being granted a "special visit" by the unit manager at a date and time outside the normal visiting schedule. 

From January 31 to March 31, 2002, the woman said she was not permitted to visit her husband because he was being disciplined for failing to stand up for a 4:00 p.m. daily count. The woman subsequently was permitted to visit her husband during the week of April 2, 2002. However, she was not permitted to visit her husband the week of May 1, 2002, because she arrived at the MDC on a day and at a time that MDC reception area staff told her was not the appropriate time to visit detainees held in the Administrative Maximum Special Housing Unit (ADMAX SHU). 

The woman told the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that she assumed this was an appropriate time because it was the same day of the week and hour of her previous "special visit." When she contacted the ADMAX SHU unit manager about this particular visitation problem, he arranged for another "special visit" which took place on May 4, 2002. 

On May 9, 2002, the detainee's wife arrived at the MDC to visit her husband but MDC staff told her that all the visitation rooms were full. She was asked to wait until after the 4:00 p.m. inmate count for a possible visit at 4:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., the reception staff told her to go home and call the following day. On May 10, 2002, the detainee's wife said she was unsuccessful in contacting anyone at the MDC to arrange a visit with her husband. 

As of May 10, 2002, the woman had succeeded in visiting her husband three times during his more than five months of confinement in the ADMAX SHU.

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