According to his lawyers, El Chapo is living in the worst prison conditions in all of America. He can’t even get a visit from a priest at the downtown Manhattan prison.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the notorious extradited Mexican drug lord, is said to be dealing with the “toughest jail rules” of any inmate in the United States right now, says his defense attorneys.
El Chapo has escaped from Mexican prisons on two different occasions. Now in a U.S. prison, he’s not allowed to do quite a few things anymore:
- Can’t buy bottled water
- Can’t shake hands with his attorneys
- Can’t tell night from day from his solitary cell
So, his El Capo’s lawyers are looking for ways to get the rules loosened up for the former Mexican drug lord. They say he can’t even meet with a Spanish-speaking priest.
Guzman is accused of running a one of the biggest drug trafficking operations in history. His organization is said to have committed numerous murders.
Wednesday, his defense team filed papers in an effort to “improve” El Capo’s prison conditions. They say he has it worse than the hard-core inmates held in “Supermax,” a Colorado federal prison.
At least those guys get to watch TV in their cells and exercise outside with other inmates, noted Michelle Gelernt, Michael Schneider and Edward Zas. Guzman, 59, works out by himself in his Metropolitan Correctional Center cell and only recently got permission from jail staff to watch DVDs.
It’s so bad, Guzman’s attorneys asked Brooklyn Federal Judge Brian Cogan to let the human rights organization, Amnesty International, inspect the jail conditions.
When the defense first asked Cogan for the rule changes, including a permission for Guzman to speak with his wife and his release to the general jail population, they said their client was starting to lose it.
Last week, prosecutors said the tight rules needed to stay intact and brushed off a claim Guzman was hearing things.
Guzman was just hearing a jail staffer’s radio, they said.
Not so, said Guzman’s lawyers — “unless that radio was Mexican music, Mr. Guzman is hearing non-existent sounds.”
The defense said prosecutors had very little to say about the effects of solitary confinement on Guzman and prisoners in general. “This was perhaps to be expected, since the devastating effects of solitary confinement are widely acknowledged”
The conditions aren’t only harming Guzman’s grip on reality, say the defense. They’re also crippling his rights to lawyer up how he wants, fight the case and publicly speak out on the charges against him.