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'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


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


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

TB worry at Maine State Prison

'No active cases'
"Several individuals" at the Maine State Prison in Warren have tested positive for tuberculosis, but "there are no confirmed active cases," says Denise Lord, deputy Maine Corrections commissioner.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 26, 2011

Penal future

Will LePage's zeal to cut the budget make prisoners and guards bleed?
The few things that Republican Governor-elect Paul LePage was reported as saying on crime-and-punishment issues during the campaign mostly sounded harsh and, of course, right-wing.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 10, 2010

AG exonerates guards

Valdez prison death
Critics of the state's prison system will press for an independent investigation after expressing dismay with the attorney general's long-delayed conclusion October 28 that Maine State Prison inmate Victor Valdez died last November from "a natural death."
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 03, 2010


Infographic: Maine's would-be governors of 2010

Their ideas for changing Maine, from a progressive perspective
How gubernatorial candidates Eliot Cutler, Paul LePage, Elizabeth Mitchell, Shawn Moody, and Kevin Scott measure up.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 20, 2010


How progressive are Maine's gubernatorial candidates?

The gubernatorial candidates' specific ideas to make Maine better (or worse)
Political rhetoric is cheap. Does a candidate have specific, practical proposals that are fresh approaches to stubborn problems? Or are their ideas irresponsible?
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 20, 2010


Why did the liberals help construct our concentration camps for the poor?

Prison complex
Why did middle-class liberals, historically the leaders of compassionate social reform, allow, with nary a peep, the construction of our colossal Prison Complex? Two books, one new and one a few years old, explain why liberals not only went along with this right-wing, racist project — they encouraged it.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 08, 2010


A prison obituary: the tragedy of Victor Valdez

A homicide? The state police are investigating. A cover-up? Who will investigate?
Joking among themselves, a small group of guards entered Close E pod. "Lock up!" one of them suddenly commanded the prisoners: go to your cells.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 28, 2010

Death penalty possible for Watland

Prison Murder
Gary Watland, the brilliant and mentally ill convicted murderer whose 2006 scheme to have his wife smuggle a loaded handgun into the Maine State Prison in Warren was foiled when another prisoner tipped off officials, faces a possible death penalty if convicted of a second murder.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 26, 2010


Are doctors complicit in prison torture?

The Maine medical community looks at solitary confinement
In the past few years an outcry has arisen over the involvement of military and CIA medical professionals and psychologists in torture. Some critics have even suggested criminal prosecution of the medical staff involved or, at least, revocation of their professional licenses.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 21, 2010

A ‘moral victory’ against supermax torture

At times the legislative debate on LD 1611, the bill to limit solitary confinement of the state’s prisoners, became surreal.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 15, 2010


Maine tortures women, too

But Riverview presents an alternative
The Maine Department of Corrections is an equal-opportunity torturer.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 10, 2010

The cost of torture

Solitary Confinement Bill Hearing
In the end, whether mass solitary confinement continues at the Maine State Prison supermax may come down to an issue of money rather than right or wrong. And resolving that issue may come down to whether the state wants to pay more now to pay less in the long term.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 25, 2010


Screams from solitary

‘By dehumanizing prisoners, we dehumanize ourselves.’
The 132-man supermax unit within the 925-man Maine State Prison is an expensive, taxpayer-funded torture chamber that for 18 years has sucked in mostly nonviolent, mostly mentally ill prisoners and ground them up by means of mind-destroying solitary confinement, officially sanctioned beatings, “restraint” devices resembling those in medieval dungeons, sexual humiliation, and psychiatric, medical, and legal neglect.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 17, 2010

Seeking humane treatment

State and national efforts well under way
Some Maine people are taking moral responsibility for the way supermax inmates are treated.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 17, 2010

Anti-solitary campaign expands

Stopping Supermax Torture
As the February 17 State House public hearing approaches on the bill to restrict solitary confinement at the Maine State Prison, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), which sparked national debate about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, has announced its support.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 03, 2010


Instead of cuts: guts

Raise taxes on the rich? Only one candidate says ‘yes’?
Let’s assume, reader, that you’re concerned about economic and social justice. For those in real need — people who are poor, sick, old, mentally ill, addicted, disabled — you want decent care. You’re concerned, too, about proper funding of schools, community colleges, and university campuses.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 06, 2010

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