June 10, 2008

VI. Recommendations

The United States should:

  • Move as many prisoners as possible into Camp 4 (or a similar setting in which prisoners are provided educational and group recreation opportunities and can congregate freely), limiting use of the higher-security units as punishment for set 30-day periods and not as facilities for prolonged detention.
  • Allow group recreation, particularly in Camp 5, which is a high-security unit but reportedly has a large enough recreation area to accommodate multiple prisoners.
  • Transform Camp 6, which is currently a high-security unit, into a medium-security unit, as is reportedly being considered.  Allow detainees out of their cells into the communal (and currently unused) areas in Camp 6.
  • Provide all detainees educational opportunities, including English-language lessons, Arabic lessons, and materials in their own languages.
  • Build additional recreation areas, and ensure that prisoners are allowed to exercise during daylight or twilight hours, rather than in the middle of the night.
  • Allow monthly phone calls to approved family members at home and provide video links, as has been done for detainees held in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, so that detainees can reconnect with their spouses, parents, children, and other family members.
  • Make some accommodation for family visits, particularly in cases of pressing humanitarian need.
  • Allow regular and confidential phone calls between detainees and their attorneys.  This is particularly important for detainees who have been charged before military commissions, whose attorneys may not be able to wait for the next scheduled visit to make decisions critical to their client's case.
  • Allow detainees to keep additional reading and other materials (such as colored pencils and paper) in their cells so as to help them pass the time.

US authorities should institute these modest changes to break up the monotony of the day by providing detainees increased social, recreational, and educational opportunities, while at the same time continuing to protect prison staff.  These changes-some of which are reportedly already in the works-should be implemented at the earliest possible time.