The Justice Department is defending its refusal not to release certain information federal authorities used to place inmates in a restrictive prison setting that limits communication and bans physical contact with the outside world.
A Justice Department lawyer, Nicholas Cartier, urged a federal judge in Washington yesterday to allow the government to keep sensitive law enforcement information from three inmates who are challenging their transfer to the Federal Bureau of Prisons' so-called "communications management unit."
Cartier said the information, which the authorities reviewed before making a placement determination about the inmates, is protected by the deliberative process and law enforcement privileges. He argued that the plaintiffs are speculating that federal officials are hiding "illegal or nefarious" reasons for the assignment to the special prison units.
The suit against the Justice Department, filed in April 2010 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges federal officials failed to provide adequate notice and justification about the transfers to the communications units. Lawyers for the prisoners describe the communication restrictions as part of an "experimental" prison unit.