New York Federal Criminal Practice Blog
March 25, 2009

SDNY Judge Grants Trial Continuance in Part Due to BOP’s Policy of Confining New Inmates in SHU

Pretrial detention at the Metropolitan Correctional Center is bad enough, but the first two weeks can be especially unbearable, since they are usually spent in the Special Housing Unit (segregated housing) while the BOP finds the inmate a bed in general housing and conducts some other routine processing like checking his gang affiliations.  Now, that policy has become one of the bases for SDNY Judge Baer to order a trial continuance.  In United States v. Gloss, 2009 WL 161063 (S.D.N.Y. January 21, 2009), the court granted the government’s application to revoke Gloss’s bail two weeks before trial and a day after a superseding indictment had been filed.  Defense counsel moved for a continuance of the trial date, and the court granted it in part because Gloss’s “substantially curtailed communication and visitation privileges” in the SHU would adversely impact his ability to prepare his defense. 

The BOP’s policy of segregating new prisoners at MCC for up to two weeks should get a lot more attention than it does.  There is no reason why the processing of new prisoners needs to take this long, and that two weeks without visits, calls and often necessary medication can take a considerable toll on newly arrested individuals.  In cases where bail is set and it is likely that the defendant will meet the conditions, the policy should be cited as a reason for immediate release.  Why subject a defendant to this kind of onerous detention when no-one seriously doubts that the formalities of the bail conditions will be satisfied? 

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