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USA vs Al-Arian
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Prison Conditions

Dr. Sami Al-Arian Conditions during the first 2 years at Coleman Federal Penetentiary (2003-2005)

From March 27, 2003 until February 8, 2005, Dr. Al-Arian was held in Coleman Federal Penitentiary, where the horrendous conditions of confinement under which he suffered for almost two years were clearly meant to psychologically break and torture him.

Despite years of investigation, neither Dr. Al-Arian nor his co-defendants, all of whom were fully aware of the ongoing investigation, ever attempted to flee the country. Yet on April 10, 2003, Dr. Al-Arian and Sameeh Hammoudeh, who under U.S. law may only be denied bail if they pose a flight risk or a threat to the community, were denied bail.

When they were initially arrested on February 20, 2003, Dr. Al-Arian and Mr. Hammoudeh were held at the local Orient Road Jail in Tampa. On March 27, 2003, they were moved 75 miles away to Coleman Federal Penitentiary, a maximum-security facility in Coleman, Florida, and placed under the harshest possible conditions. As the only detainees in the facility who had not been tried, much less convicted of any crime, Dr. Al-Arian and Mr. Hammoudeh clearly did not belong in this facility. Moreover, they were placed in isolation in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), a section of the prison normally reserved for punishing inmates who misbehave. Some of the atrocious conditions imposed on him at Coleman were Guantanamo-like conditions (with the exceptions of limited phone calls and visistations) that included:

(A depiction by an artist of how Dr. Al-Arian used to walk almost half a mile shackled, cuffed behind his back, and bent over to carry his legal material on his back- because guards refused to carry them- on his way to meet his lawyers in prison)

  • A small, windowless cell with no control over lighting, which is normally turned on.
  • Held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and many times 24 hours per day.
  • The infrequent one hour-excercise was in a bit bigger cage during night time with no sunshine exposure.
  • Did not see sunshine for weeks until limited transfers to Tampa for court hearings or discovery.
  • Limited medical attention for his diabetes and asthma.
  • Subjected to continuous extremely low temperatures in the cell.
  • Limited amount and change of undergarments and clothes.
  • Allowed only one 15-minute phone call per month (denied for 6 months between June and December 2003.)
  • Allowed limited visits with immediate family only. All visits are noncontact visits.
  • Frequent, intrusive and insulting strip-searches even though he has no contacts with anyone.
  • Exposed to deafenning fire alarms to as much as 5-10 times per day, each time 10-15 minutes.
  • Continuous harrassment and "shakedowns", that left the cell upside down including confiscating some of his legal notes.
  • Handcuffing him from the back everytime he leaves his cell; even handcuffed from the back during the occasional check-up by doctors or for medical lab tests.
  • Unlike other convicted prisoners he had very limited access to canteen items, including winter undergarmets, pencils and writing materials.
  • Limited access to attorneys, and when meeting putting severe restrictions on time.
  • Very limited access to the evidence against him (documents, electronic phone interceptions, etc.) which needed computers (not allowed) or equipment that kept    failing or batteries that were infrequently provided or charged.

The respected international human rights monitor, Amnesty International, sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons describing Dr. Al-Arian's detention as "gratuitously punitive."

The group cited the 23-hour lockdown, strip searches, use of chains and shackles, severely limited recreation, lack of access to any religious service and denial of a watch or clock in a windowless cell where the artificial light is frequently on.

Amnesty concluded: "The prolonged cellular confinement, lack of exercise, frequent shackling and other deprivations imposed on Dr. Al-Arian are inconsistent with international standards and treaties which require that all persons deprived of their liberty must be treated humanely with respect for their inherent human dignity." But in this case, "We're particularly concerned because he's a pretrial detainee," says Angela Wright, an Amnesty researcher in London told the Palm Beach Post.

On his prison experience, Dr. Al-Arian wrote several poems, here are some of them:

Conditions at Orient Road Jail vs. Coleman Penitentiary

Orient Road Jail Coleman Penitentiary
Distance 5 miles from family 75 miles from family
Attorney Access Accessible to Attorneys (24 hours per day)
Far from Attorneys with limited days and hours.
Telephone Use 1 hour/day 15 minutes per month
Visits Everyday-7 days a week 2 days/wk - one week
4 days/wk - the next
Time of Visits Morning/Afternoon/Evening 8am-2 pm only
Allowed Visitors Friends and Family Immediate Family Only

1 hr outdoors/day
1 hr indoors/day

1 hr indoors, infrequent, between the hours of 9pm and 6 am. (no sunshine)
No outdoor recreation.
TV/Radio Yes/Many stations No/ Few Stations.
Guards Always available observing. No guards or observation.
Uniform/Boxers, etc.

Multiple available at one time.
Changes 3 times/week

Only one set per week
Pens/Pencils Mechanical pencils, Black pens available Non-mechanical pencils rarely available. No sharpeners available or erasers. limited writing materials.
Contact with Convicted Felons No interaction whatsoever. Housed in the same unit but in isolated cells with murderers, rapists, drug-dealers, and other convicted felons.
Knowing the Time of Day There was a clock on the wall to know time, especially important for prayer. It's very difficult to know what time of the day or night it is, since there are no clocks or guards at hand.
False Fire Alarms N/A 5-12 times per day with deafening sounds, each for 10-15 minutes.
Banging on Doors N/A It's a continuous phenomenon for inmates to bang loudly on their doors daily. Sometimes for over 30 minutes at a time.
Vulgarities & Obscenities N/A Heard daily for over 2 hours at night as inmates shout at each other.
Canteens Available Very restrictive in the maximum
security area.

Read about what a respected international human rights organization said about Dr. Al-Arian's conditions of confinement.

Amnesty International Letter Decrying Prison Conditions

For the list of prisons Dr. Al-Arian has been transferred to from 2/20/2003 to 9/2/2008 click: Prisons


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Documents & Releases

Statement of Chairs of American Muslim Task-Force on Civil Rights and Elections  (AMT) and  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Howard Zinn Statement on Professor Al-Arian



March 2000

December 2005alarian.jpg

January 2009

To be patriotic is to be able to question government policy in times of crisis.
To be patriotic is to stand up for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in times of uncertainty and insecurity.
To be patriotic is to  speak up against the powerful in defense of the weak and the voiceless.
To be patriotic is to be willing to pay the price to preserve our freedoms, dignity, and rights.
To be patriotic is to
challenge the abuses of the PATRIOT Act.
From a speech by Dr. Al-Arian


UFF Summary: Al-Arian and USF


Announcement of Book: The Al-Arian Reader

A new compilation of all relevant articles to be released soon by the National Liberty Fund

Selected Poems
by Sami Al-Arian

We Shall Rise

To Maya Angelou
Like the dream of the slave
You rise
And with the scream of the brave
I shall rise
In honoring the memory of your ancestors
You rise
With my stateless brothers and sisters
I shall rise
Like dust in the sunlight
You rise
And as ashes in a fiery night
I shall rise
You offend
Because of your existence
And I
For my resistance
You upset them
Recalling their past
And I
By holding steadfast
They may trod you in dirt
May cause me all the hurt
Inflict upon you excruciating pain
While they shut me up and detain
But they won't see you broken
Neither would my faith be forsaken
As you've never bowed your head
And never lowered your eyes
I'll continue to raise my fist
And hide my mother's cries
They may shoot you with their words
Cut me up with their swords
They may insult you with their eyes
Denigrate me with their lies
Trying to kill you with their hate
Bury me alive to seal my fate
But they'd certainly
Be shamed and fail
As the free chant and sing
On their march to prevail
So keep your head held high
As I follow you and try
And keep your beautiful smile
As I walk my first mile
They'll pressure and blame
Throw us in prison to control and tame
They'll exile and defame
Lynch us all or shoot and maim
Burn crosses with no shame
Target our children in a dirty game
But why is that a surprise?
Despite their evil and terror
Their falsehood and lies
You shall rise
And I shall rise
You're the black ocean
Leaping and wide
I'm the Mediterranean
With a stormy tide
Staying together
Side by side
It's no surprise
We shall rise
Surely shall rise
We together shall rise
No Longer Afraid
For us to feel "secure"
What price is being paid?
If living in freedom
Why are we afraid?
Fear is everywhere
All around
Perhaps irrational
But without any bound
You can see it on our faces
Sense it in our eyes
You can hear it in our whispers
Feel it in our cries
More>>No Longer Afraid
The Bird and The Vulture
The bird was chirping
In a house on a tree
But the vulture was angry
Because it was free
When the bird is singing
The vulture ain't safe
More>>The Bird and The Vulture
The Smile of Freedom
He looked like
A body-builder
Tall, tough, and full
All muscles and no fat
His mind was simple
Suited to follow orders
No questions asked
Acting mean and mechanical
Like any bureaucrat
More>>The Smile ...
In the Name of Freedom
In the name of freedom
We shall rule the world
To spread democracy
And set you free
In the name of freedom
We’ll descend on you
To make you civilized
Modern and orderly
More>>In the Name ...
The Accused: Franz Kafka Meets George Orwell in 21st Century America
Act I: The Mother of all Evidence
Act II- Weapons of Mass Deception
Act III: Silencing of the Lambs
Act IV: Attacks of the Wolves
Act V: Occupied Territory
Act VI: Police State
Act VII: Official Obituary
Act VIII: A Close Encounter of the Scariest Kind
Act IX: The Inquisition
Act X- Conspiracy Theory
Act XI- Secret Trials
Act XII- Silent Pain and Teary Eyes
Act XIII- True Patriot Acts
Do Not Sign
Rights are not for sale
History is not kind
On those who sell their people out,
Betray their cause,
Surrender their land
To tow the line
Do not sign
More>>Do Not Sign
Rachel Corrie: Daughter of Palestine
The most gentle
Amongst all honorable
Had a spirit
As dazzling as
The garden of
More>>Daughter of Palestine
Ole Jerusalem
O Ole Jerusalem
I feel your pain
I hear your cries
The light thunder
In the darkness
And the heavy rain
I see the steady bleeding
Of your wound
With its mark and stain
More>>Ole Jerusalem
Patrick Henry
A revolutionary
At heart
A patriot
From the start
Loved by his country
To the core
Defended freedom
Even more
Hated arrogance
In shape and tone
Fought tyranny
With every bone
He was the conscience
Of his people
Striking fear in the enemy
And made it feeble
More>> Patrick Henry
An overwhelming feeling
Of bitterness
Of hatred and rage
Trapped in a cage
Disappointment and anger
Continuing to linger
Wounding of dignity
Violating your virginity
More>> Injustice
Political Riddles
He sees the world as black and white
His solution to every quandary is fight with might
The economy will not stimulate
Because he can’t articulate
While jobs are gone
He says, “bring ‘em on.”
Who is he?
He likes to be called the General
The head of an agency that’s federal
If you spit on the sidewalk
He’ll send the Incredible Hulk
He hates to cite truth or fact
Because he’s busy promoting his unpatriotic act
He frequents TV cameras with a smash
The first part of his last name sounds like trash
Who is he?
He is the ideal dutiful poodle they say
From an empire where the sun did not set one day
He adores his cowboy friend and considers him a fan
And insists: I’m nobody’s yes-man
When the cowboy says no, I say no
Who is he?
More>>Political Riddles