Imprisoned 6 Months Without a Bond Hearing

It sounds like a scene out of Guantanamo Bay.  Pro-longed detention without a bond hearing, let alone a trial. 

But the legal fiction that it’s okay because Gitmo isn’t technically U.S. soil, propounded by both the Bush and Obama Justice Departments, doesn’t apply here. That’s because the mass detentions are in Massachusetts.

And it’s not an accidental slip up regarding one or another unfortunate prisoner.  According to a suit just granted class action status by a Massachusetts federal judge, dozens of people at any given time are detained for more than six months without bond hearings, in apparent violation of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.

So what’s the Justice Department’s excuse?  That the detainees are non-citizens.  According to a National Law Journal article, “The central question in Reid v. Donelan was whether federal law requires a bond hearing for noncitizens detained for an unreasonable period.”

But the federal courts have repeatedly held that the Bill of Rights makes no distinction between the personal rights of citizens versus non-citizens.

While similar suits by individual non-citizen detainees have been filed around the country, this is the first suit to have been granted class status.  Definitely a case to watch.  Read more here.


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