Letter from James A. Gondles to Thomas W. O'Connell re: American Corrections Association Operational Assistance Visit to Guantanamo Bay

This letter is from James Gondles of the American Corrections Association giving a synopsis of his organizations assessment of the facilities at Guantanamo Bay. The letter states that Guantanamo "appeared to provide a safe, secure and humane environment for those enemy combatants being confined". And that the "confinement Policies, standard operating procedures, and practices observed by the delegation were designed to ensure the integrity, dignity, health and appropriate privileges of the detainees and to protect them from ill treatment". The letter concludes that the CAC team was "impressed and proud of the professionalism and work ethic exhibited by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from all aspects of the [facility].

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Thursday, June 29, 2006


AMERICAN CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION 4380 Forbes Blvd. • Lanham, MD 20706 s (301) 918-1800 • Fax (301) 918-1900
TO Thomas W. O'Connell
Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Special Operations\Low Intensity Conflict)

FROM James A. Soaks,
Executive. Or

ACA Operational Assistance Visit JTF-GTMO •
DATE May 27, 2004
Commander Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay (JTF-GTMO), Cuba requested senior officials of the American Correctional Association (ACA) conduct an operational assistance visit of the US confinement facility for enemy combatants captured as part of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). The ACA is an internationally recognized professional association that establishes standards for correctional/confinement facilities, for training and staff development and accredits facilitim according to established correctional standards.. The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Doctor Paul Wolfowitz approved the invitation and the visit. The mission for the ACA (1.r.i.t2atinu included observation and receipt of information to consider in the validation of the confinement operations and to provide appropriate suggestions where improvements might be
From 15 thin 17 September, a senior leaders delegation of the ACA visited the JTF-GTMO. The team received an operational brief from MG Mintr and his staff on day one and a comprehensive tour of the ITF-GTMO confinement operation on day two. The team out briefed MG Miller and departed the island on day three.
OPMG Document

Memo to Thomai W. O'Connell May 27, 2004 Page 2
From our observations, the facility at JTF-GTMO appear:d.to provide a safe, secure and
humane environment for those enemy combatants being confined as part of the GWOT.
Although the standards of confinement, which are part of the ACA and Commissionon
Accreditation for Correction's, as well as other international guidelines, are not applicable to •
this mission environment, the spirit of those standards is being maintained whenni .er possible.

The confinement Policies, standard operatiniprocedures, and practices observed by the -
delegation were designed to ensure the integrity, dignity, health and appropriate privileges of
the detainees to protect them from ill treatment. The delegation did not witness an
environment conducive to cruel or degrading treatment of any detainee. • • •

Physical Conditions
The facility conforms to a basic block design providing housing in a 6'x8' individual living
space including an off-the-floor sleeping surface and individual water and toilet facilities. The
open-air design was adapted for the climate of Cuba and provides adequate protections from
the elements:

Sanitation and Cleanliness:
The facility is extremely well maintained: Upholding high standards of cleanliness despite the
open-air design and corrosive nature of the sea air, the on-going maintenance program ensues
that the facility remains clean and sanitary.

Physical and Mental Health:
Medical facilities were found to be exceptionally good. Detainee medical care far exceeded local
community standards of care the detainees would likely have access to, but for their detention.
The mental health facility provides appropriate segregation and treatment for those detainees
identified having mental health issues. The 'mental health block, and the services provided there,
has resulted in a reduction of self-harm attempts and meets the present needs of the detainee
population from the team's observation. •

General Living Accommodations . •

The detainees are provided adequate hygiene and recreational opportunities, as well as an

opportunity for a communal and less restrictive living environment. The detainees have their

religions and cultural needs met through a variety of methods, including availability of religious

texts, scheduled prayer , prayer rugs, special diets and Chaplain liaisons to ensure that
appropriate practices are maintained.
011MG Document


Memo to Thomas W. O'Connell May 27, 2004 Page 3
• Recommendations
3. The confinement operation of JTF-GTMO, although uniqUe in its population and purpose, is not so different from any other confinement operation where liberties are restrained as a result of a detainee's actions or suspected actions. Despite the
, • unique population the leadership and guard force seem to understand basic .• •
4 confinement concepts of predictable behaviors. That is, after a period of acclamation a-confined person or population will begin to act within certain predictable behavior. Capitalizing on this knowledge and applying proven correctional practicei the culture of a facility can be controlled to ensure a safer and .more secure environment for all. The Cadre and leadership have done well in establishing a humane, safe and secure environment for the detainees. Sound practices such as assistance visits by the Armys correctional subject matter experts have contributed to the operation and should be continued. •
4. As the long-term planning unfolds it is important to identify and rely upon diverse sources of information. No one person, state or system has the exact algorithm for this operation. Looking to various systems and applying the needs of the JTF-GTMO operations against multiple solution samples achieves a higher probability of success. The Army possesses experience and expertise at both the headquarters and facili levels, as illustrated by the exceptional operational attention of the action orientated Army experts; those from other services and federal and state agencies, can also provide insight on everything from facility design, staffing pattern planning to detainee program planning. The JTF-GTMO should utilize a number of different resources in its planning and operations to achieve a higher potential for efficiency and success. IThe cadre and leadership of JTF-GTMO should be engaged in the overall field of confinement/corrections. There are numerous sources of training and information available to provide insight and keep the innovative mind inspired in developing their solution sets for day-to-day confinement issues and long-term operational challenges.
OPMG Document

Memo to Thomas W. O'Connell May 27, 2004 Page 4
The ACA team was both impressed and proud of the prOfessionali.sm and work ethic exhibited by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from all aspects of the ITF­GTMO mission. We were also impressed as correctional experts by the quality of the • confinement operation; and particularly as Americans watching our Countfs sons and daughters unwavering dedication and spirited resolve to protect us, their families and their country. We salute and offer our heartfelt thanks to them all.