Opponents included MPAC, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (which the next day testified against the parole bill). The department's testimony revealed that prisoners have tried this remedy only a dozen times in ten years and, during that period, have never been successful.
For this bill's reception, too, dramatic stories were important. A few days before the hearing, the Maine Today newspapers had published online a video of a guard captain at the Maine Correctional Center squirting pepper spray into the face of a mentally ill prisoner tied to a restraint chair. The video and its accompanying story received great attention and, for the officer, condemnation.
The ACLU brought this incident to committee members' notice, but in their discussion they had shown it was already on their minds.
And this most recent news of prisoner abuse came on the heels of news stories about the guard captain at the Maine State Prison who was arrested for assaulting a handcuffed prisoner.
"If the bill isn't defeated, I'd be shocked," said MPAC's Judy Garvey.