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Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab Sues Federal Prison

On Christmas day, 2009, a Nigerian national on board a Northwest airlines flight enroute to Detroit, Michigan from Amsterdam, Holland attempted to kill himself and everyone onboard by detonating an explosive device. He was wearing underwear which contained PETN, an explosive compound. The device malfunctioned and other passengers subdued him. He was subsequently sentenced to multiple life sentences. He is bringing a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the US attorney General, asserting that his constitutional rights are being violated by confinement to a SHU (Special Housing Unit) where very high risk prisoners, such as terrorists, are held in isolation.

The idea that an inmate can actually sue a prison or department of correction is ludicrous. Reality Check: He is a terrorist. He intended to blow up a plane full of passengers. He got caught. He were tried and convicted. He was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in federal prison. Here is another reality: Criminals are very good at making people feel sorry for them. It is what they do best. They are always going to be the victim. It is part of the internal locus of control which is common in criminal offenders. Locus of control is our beliefs about responsibility and control over our lives. People who have an internal locus of control believe that they are primarily responsible for what happens to them. If something bad happens, they made a mistake or a poor decision, and things went wrong. Man up, take the consequences, and move on. When good things happen it is the result of hard work and effort. Those with an external locus of control believe they are the victim of fate, the government, their families, and other people. Nothing is ever their fault. They blame others anytime something goes wrong in the life, basically demanding the world has to change for them, rather than conform their behavior to the demands of society. 

In prison, you have very little in the way of choices. You get up when they tell you, go to bed when they tell you, and you eat when they tell you. The food in a correctional facility is lousy. It is either too hot in the summer, to too cold in the winter. The entire place will smell of toilets, feet, and body odor. You will sleep on a pad about an inch thick. You may not have visitors for months at a time, or ever, you will have to deal with violence on a regular basis, and the doors in and out are locked, and you can’t leave when you feel like it. It is not intended to be a pleasant place. The accommodations should be humane, but not luxurious, and they are not intended to be comfortable.