Go, Lance, go!
I was in disbelief reading newspaper reports that Maine corrections commissioner Martin Magnusson wanted the Maine Legislature to allow him to ship out of state prisoners he deemed “bad actors,” as Magnusson had already been exposed as allowing torture of prisoners on his watch. Lance Tapley’s “Prisoners as Commodities” (April 27) explained to me why Senator Bill Diamond and Governor Baldacci were willing to give Magnusson more discretion to abuse, as well as the real reason Baldacci’s political-prisoner correspondent Deane Brown was shipped out of state. Is he a “bad actor” because he exposed the truth about the Department of Corrections? Is that why Brown has been held incommunicado by telephone, even to his lawyer, since before the gubernatorial election?
Attempts to censor Brown and Tapley have only fueled Mr. Tapley to tenaciously uncover the truth wherever it leads him; from prison cells to the State House. The bumper sticker, "A patriot must always be prepared to defend his country against his government," applies here. What sets award-winning journalist Tapley apart from others is illustrated again in his outstanding article. He is not for sale, and does his homework to bring to readers articles that get to the heart of a just cause and tell it like it is. Keep exposing the truth, Lance Tapley; way to follow the money trail! Other papers willing to splatter what criminologists refer to as moral panic on their front pages, shamefully won’t print letters criticizing their fictitious fact-containing articles. God bless the First Amendment.
Lance Tapley’s tireless efforts to expose the corruption in the Department of Corrections (for the latest installment, see "Prisoner Gagged," on page 5) should be an example to all of us who condemn the systematic human rights abuses throughout the prison system. The transfer of Maine State Prison inmate Deane Brown, who has spent the last five months in a Maryland Supermax for bringing these issues into the public light, should be another.
Through repressive media restrictions, exiling prisoners who speak out, and refusing to address charges made against the department within the past year, the DOC has sent a clear message to the people of Maine. It is time that we send a message back.
The denial of essential medications, prolonged periods of solitary confinement for the mentally ill, and the use of medieval restraint chairs where prisoners are stripped naked, bound, and pepper sprayed can be summed up in one word: torture.
Politicians and prison officials at the state and federal levels need to be aware that if they cannot adhere to the legal rights of prisoners, cannot demonstrate competency in rehabilitating inmates, and cannot prove that the prison system in this country is anything but a massive and frightening failure, their positions of power within the system will be threatened. For more information on efforts to support Deane Brown and to challenge the human rights abuses in the Maine prison system contact the Black Bird Collective at firstname.lastname@example.org.