Welcome to Hell: what the US has in store for Abu Hamza

Oct 12, 2012

Extremist cleric gets first taste of American jail conditions - and there's much worse to come

Odd Anderson

EXTREMIST cleric Abu Hamza faces "hell on earth" in the American jail system according to a Daily Mail report from New York, where the Islamist "preacher of hate" pleaded not guilty earlier this week to 11 terrorism-related charges.

Hamza has had his hooks confiscated and now "languishes" in a 7.5ft x 8ft cell in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan awaiting trial, set for August next year.

The cell window is only 4in wide, "little more than an arrow slit", allowing the inmate to see only the roofline and the sky, thus discouraging any attempt to work out one's location and hatch an escape plan.

Inmates exercise in a concrete pit resembling an empty swimming pool - again designed to disorientate escape-minded prisoners.

Communication with other inmates is severely limited and any phone calls to family are monitored. It is thought unlikely Hamza's wife, still living in the couple's London council house, will be allowed to enter the States to visit him.

But the Mail suggests that life in the Manhattan correctional centre will feel like a picnic compared to what Hamza faces if he is convicted of the terrorism charges and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Then he will doubtless be sent to the dreaded 'Supermax' ADX Florence facility in Colorado, renowned as the toughest prison in the States and famously described as "a clean version of hell" by a former warden.

"Prisoners live in virtual isolation," says the Mail, "confined 23 hours a day under tight lockdown conditions in tiny cells. In each, there is only a concrete bed and thin mattress, an immovable concrete desk and stool, a combined lavatory, sink and drinking fountain, and — if he is lucky — a small black and white TV showing educational and religious programmes."

It's all a far cry from Hamza's prison life in Britain before his extradition to the US. Prison authorities spent £650 to fit special hook-friendly taps in his cell at HMP Belmarsh.

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I have no problem with the prison system adapting cells to prisoners with special needs, but how the hell does it cost £650 for a pair of taps?
We have taps with long levers so Dr's and Nurses can operate them with their elbows when they scrub for an operation, and they fit on an ordinary tap. There are other versions that can be operated with a foot, yet others are pre-set to a temperature, and waving a hand in front of an infra-red sensor operates them for 45 seconds. None of them come anywhere near that cost.