The following is an excerpt of a letter sent by Rabih Haddad from his
cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in downtown Chicago.
While it's addressed to one member of the Chicago Coalition Against War &
Racism (CCAWR), it's really for all who are working defend civil
liberties and end racial profiling.
Jan. 27, 2002
Dear Mr. Thayer,
Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful letter of Jan. 22. I do
greatly appreciate your interest and efforts for my release. Please
extend my regards and gratitude to all members of CCAWR. I am sorry to
say that I was not able to see the protests because the window in my cell
is "Whited out" to allow light in but not for me to see anything out. I
was able, however, to hear about it from other inmates who own small
radios and heard it on the news.
Allow me to take this opportunity to bring you slightly into my world
here at MCC Chicago. I am in a 6' x 9' solitary cell that seems to have
been designed for extremely violent or extremely troublesome inmates. The
bed is situated in the center of the room with about a foot and a half on
either side of it to the wall. The bed is a metal slab with four legs
bolted to the floor and fitted on all four corners with special fittings
to hold straps if it should become necessary. I have a camera fixed on
me right outside my door that has completely deprived me of any kind of
privacy since that door has a small window which allows them to check and
see if I'm still there around the clock. It's for my safety, they say.
I am allowed one 15 minute call to my family every 30 days. My food is
handed to me through a slit in the door 2-1/2" x 12". The same opening
is used to put the cuffs on me before the door is opened for any reason.
I am allowed 3 showers a week for which I have to be cuffed to walk 10
paces to the shower that has a door similar to my cell's door. I'm only
un-cuffed after I'm inside and the door is locked.
I also get 1 hour of recreation 5 days a week, and what a joke that is. I
am led, cuffed, from my cell to a cage (literally) just down the hall
which is the same size as my cell. In it is a homemade stationary
bicycle that has no resistance and thus is worthless for exercising. I
have to wait until the cage is empty because I cannot be put in there
with anyone else, for my own safety, they say.
I have made numerous pleas to the warden and others to let me speak with
my family once a week, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. I have
been under these conditions for the past month and a half, which can
drive a person to the extreme limits of his/her mental, emotional, and
psychological capabilities. Where do we draw the line between justice and
oppression? Between prosecution and persecution? Is due process supposed
to serve society or is society supposed to be enslaved by "due process"?
Many people on this side of the fence, I'm sorry to say, have become
Pavlovic dogs of sorts when it comes to "due process." I have been
treated like the worst criminal you can imagine when I have not even been
charged with a crime, save overstaying my visa, which I was in the
process of remedying.
All of this has done nothing but harden my will and strengthened my
resolve to overcome and persevere. Your efforts and the efforts of
others are like torches of hope that light my way in this deep and dark
tunnel that I've entered and I am eternally grateful for that. Please
convey my warmest greetings and thanks to all those who planned,
participated or supported your efforts. May God bless you all.