More trouble in the Supermax

Prison watch  
By JEFF INGLIS  |  October 25, 2006

A hunger strike has ended at the Maine State Prison in Warren, but all is not well at the state’s largest house of corrections.

News of the hunger strike by more than a dozen prisoners was broken by the Portland Phoenix on on October 18 (see “Hunger Strike at Maine’s Supermax Prison,” by Lance Tapley). The Maine Public Broadcasting Network and the Associated Press carried stories of their own in subsequent days.

In the wake of a suicide by a mentally ill Supermax inmate, Ryan Rideout, on October 5 (see “Death in the Supermax,” by Lance Tapley, October 13), two other inmates in the unit, officially called the Special Management Unit, attempted suicide and were hospitalized for self-inflicted razor wounds. The prisoners were treated and returned to their cells, but they and the other prisoners in the unit had to contend with a new ban — on razors — in addition to existing bans on toothbrushes, soap, radios, television sets, and a second sweatshirt. Those restrictions were called by one inmate “non-touch torture tactics.”

The combined restrictions were cited by some prisoners as the reason for the hunger strike, which ended Saturday. The ban on razors has been lifted.

However, as the Portland Phoenix went to press Tuesday evening, all visits to prisoners were cancelled until Monday, because of an event described by Warden Jeffrey Merrill as having the “potential of being very serious.” Merrill would not give details on what happened but said an investigation was going on. Crystal Canney, the governor’s spokeswoman, said no one had been injured and that the prison was not in lockdown, though she said there had been “an incident at the facility,” and she was “waiting for charges to be filed.”

Watch and future issues of the Portland Phoenix for more on this continuing story.

  Topics: This Just In , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, Criminal Sentencing and Punishment,  More more >
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