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LANCE TAPLEY

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‘Blaine House Nine’ banned from Capitol Park, State House

Augusta protests
Bet you didn't know that the police, without going to court or giving a reason, can order you not to enter public property like the State House — and if you disobey you could spend up to six months in jail.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 07, 2011

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Augusta occupiers show a political way to spring

‘Occupy the Capitol!’
The recent act of nonviolent civil disobedience by nine middle-aged and older Occupy Augusta supporters — arrested for refusing to leave the governor's mansion grounds — opens a new phase in Maine's Occupy movement.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 30, 2011

Senator Collins helps derail prison reform

'Toxic' Washington
As a result of the apparent decision by congressional Republicans to oppose almost everything Democrats are for, Maine Senator Susan Collins — who claims to be above partisanship — helped derail Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb's bill to establish a bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission. Maine's Olympia Snowe and three other Republicans joined unanimous Senate Democrats to support it.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 09, 2011

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Reducing solitary confinement

Exclusive Interview: How Maine’s corrections commissioner dropped supermax numbers by 70 percent . . . and became a national leader in prison reform (if anybody follows)
Installed by conservative Republican Governor Paul LePage last winter, Maine's new corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte, 64, immediately set about reforming the prison system.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 02, 2011

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'Bath salts' hysteria grips lawmakers

This is your Legislature on drugs
Like hopeless, strung-out junkies, one legislator after another babbled contradictions.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 05, 2011

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Many Turnpike Authority enablers still in power

Five years on
Five years ago this week the Portland Phoenix published an exposé of the Maine Turnpike Authority executives' lavish lifestyle.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 03, 2011



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Democrats celebrate victory in the face of defeat

They cozy up to Republicans and the rich
Senator Dawn Hill, of Cape Neddick, the lead Democrat on the Legislature's Appropriations Committee, which fashioned the recently passed $6-billion state budget, explained to the Phoenix why she voted to reduce income and estate taxes on the rich while also voting for cuts in help to the poor and in teacher and state-worker pensions.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 06, 2011

Mentally ill inmates need more help

Prison reform
Prisoner advocates would like the new Corrections commissioner to strengthen his reform of the Maine State Prison by giving more care to the many mentally ill prisoners he is releasing from often-lengthy solitary confinement into the prison's general population.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 22, 2011

Top prison officials fired

Shakeup continues
In a continuing shakeup at the troubled Maine State Prison, new Corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte has fired six top officials including its controversial security chief, Deputy Warden James O'Farrell.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 15, 2011

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Reform comes to the supermax

New commissioner cuts population by more than half; prisoner-rights advocates help in the reform
Less than three months into his job, Maine's new corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte has begun to dramatically reform the Maine State Prison's long-troubled solitary-confinement "supermax" unit.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 25, 2011

Corporate prison bill 'carried over'

Inmate Exile Dept.
Although LD 690, A BILL TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR "EXILED" PRISONERS TO RETURN TO MAINE , was killed May 6 by the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, political activist Ron Huber, who had pushed it, declared "victory in Augusta" on his Facebook page.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 12, 2011



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NAACP, others bristle after GOP Senator censors anti-private-prison testimony

Words ‘slavery,’ ‘racism’ banned
What is it with some Republicans and racial issues, anyway?
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 04, 2011

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Lock-up lessons

The new corrections commissioner wants Maine prisons to learn from the state’s juvenile-treatment model
Fixing Maine’s troubled prisons is not an impossible task. In fact, if the state treated adult inmates more along the lines of how it treats juvenile offenders, prison critics — including, surprisingly, the new corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte — think the prisons might not only become more humane, they might actually “correct” the prisoners.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 14, 2011

LePage kisses the Phoenix

Valentine's Day
We are savoring the moment. It won't last long.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 23, 2011

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At a turning point

LePage's nominee to head Corrections has the skills to fix Maine's broken prison system. Will the governor and lawmakers give Joseph Ponte the tools?
When Joseph Ponte was told that Maine's longtime corrections commissioner Martin Magnusson had once informed the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, after a dramatic hostage-taking, that there were "probably 300 inmates right now with a weapon in their hand" — and that nobody at the committee meeting seemed disturbed by this information — Ponte's reaction was "I would be extremely perturbed by that."
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 09, 2011

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New Corrections commissioner nominated

Prison administration
Joseph Ponte, 64, a veteran warden for the nation's largest private-prison operator, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), has been nominated by Republican Governor Paul LePage to be the state's Corrections commissioner, replacing Martin Magnusson.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 27, 2011



'No-touch torture' in New Jersey

Maine Whistleblower Watch
Deane Brown, a Maine inmate shipped out of state because of his criticism of the Maine State Prison, is now being held in New Jersey in "one of the most repressive" prison units in the country, often reserved for "political" or activist prisoners like black radicals, says Bonnie Kerness of the American Friends Service Committee's national Prison Watch.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 26, 2011

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Can Maine's Democrats come back from the dead?

Or have they been Republicans for too long?
Let's skip over several huge problems the Maine Democratic Party faces as it tries to recover from its historic losses in November, when for the first time since 1964 the Republicans took control of both houses of the Legislature and the governorship.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 19, 2011

Hating the government you lead

LePage's inauguration
The Augusta Civic Center lobby swarmed with soldiers, security guards, legislators, lobbyists, and Republican ladies in nice dresses with "Volunteer" badges.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 26, 2011

LePage interested in corporate prisons

The $25,000 contribution question
In the gubernatorial campaign the controversial Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison operator, spent $25,000 on behalf of Republican candidate Paul LePage, now the governor-elect.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 26, 2011

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5 years against torture

Penal past
The Portland Phoenix ’s prison investigation, focusing on the Maine supermax, has published 75 stories over the past five years. Here are some of the key pieces, with brief updates on what, if anything, has happened since.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 13, 2010


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