Deputy commissioner Lord's attitude was "very frustrating," she said — there should always be a public explanation for a prisoner's death under unusual circumstances. "Unless we had kept pushing," Garvey said, "an investigation into Mr. Valdez's death would never have taken place." She found the lack of an official examination of Valdez's body "beyond comprehension."

Former prison chaplain Stan Moody, of Manchester, who also is a member of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, has a similar view.

"There's a shroud of secrecy" over the prison, he said, and it's especially heavy over the supermax. "They're not accountable," he said of Corrections officials. "They're defensive with the public. They don't see taxpayers as their boss."

When there's a death like Valdez's or Sheldon Weinstein's, Moody added, the prison's attitude is: "If we can stall it as long as possible" — stall in getting out information — "the public will no longer be interested."

Moody, who is a former state legislator, also was gloomy about what he described as the public's lack of interest in prison issues: "The public believes it is safer with prisoners locked up" in the prisons, but with the harsh treatment of inmates and almost no rehabilitation efforts, he said, prisons actually are machines for making the public unsafe. He held out some hope, though, that a new governor and new corrections commissioner would institute reforms.

Garvey said one action that would discourage the mistreatment of prisoners was "opening up the doors to reporters."

Lance Tapley can be reached at lance.tapley@gmail.com.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  | 
  Topics: News Features , Prison, Maine Department of Corrections, homicide,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY LANCE TAPLEY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MICHAEL JAMES SENT BACK TO PRISON  |  April 16, 2014
    The hearing’s topic was whether James’s “antisocial personality disorder” was enough of a mental disease to keep him from being sent to prison.
  •   LOCKING UP THE MENTALLY ILL  |  April 03, 2014
    The merger of the prison and mental-health systems continues
  •   WHERE ARE THE LEADERS ON CLIMATE CHANGE?  |  March 20, 2014
    The conference was held in March despite the risk of a snowstorm because its organizers wanted “to reach the Legislature while it’s in session,” co-coordinator Fred Horch said.
  •   ANATOMY OF A RIP-OFF, PART II  |  March 06, 2014
    Imagine if state government gave out millions of dollars a year to fat-cat financiers, big banks,  and speculative ventures without monitoring how the money is spent — basically, giving it to whoever walks in the door as long as they flash a few credentials.
  •   ANATOMY OF A TAXPAYER RIP-OFF  |  February 19, 2014
    To try to restore several hundred mill jobs to the historic paper-making North Country towns of Millinocket and East Millinocket, Maine’s politicians, in a bipartisan manner, have given away and are planning to give away millions of taxpayer dollars to various corporate interests, including big, out-of-state banks.

 See all articles by: LANCE TAPLEY