A Supermax “graduate”

Watch your backs
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 11, 2007

For 20 months, the Portland Phoenix has reported on inadequate mental-health care for Maine prison inmates, especially for those in the 100-man, solitary-confinement Supermax inside the state prison in Warren. The Supermax makes mentally unstable prisoners worse, its critics say.

“I reached out and told them I need medication. I reached out and told them I shouldn’t be out in society. I told numerous cops, numerous guards,” Michael Woodbury, a recent Supermax “graduate,” told reporters July 5, according to the Associated Press.

Woodbury, 31, from Windham, had just publicly admitted killing three men in a Conway, New Hampshire, store robbery July 2. Among his incarcerations, which began when he was 16, was a five-year sentence to the Maine prison (for robbery and theft) that ended in May. He was in the Supermax, he wrote in an on-line personal ad.

During his sentence, Woodbury gave a four-page “manifesto” to a prison therapist saying he “was going to crack like this,” he told reporters. His adoptive father told the AP Woodbury was mentally ill and did not get proper treatment in prison.

“He’s psycho and he will do about anything. He kept telling us that he is a demon and can read people’s minds,” Renee Gagne, 17, of Windham, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. With her sister, she accompanied Woodbury on a recent alleged crime spree through Southern states.

Citing state confidentiality laws, Maine associate corrections commissioner Denise Lord refused to discuss anything about Woodbury’s incarceration or his treatment — if any — for mental problems.

Because Woodbury was not on probation, Lord disclaimed departmental responsibility for his actions after his release and rejected the idea they represented a failure of the department, whose mission includes working to “reduce the likelihood that an offender will offend again.”

Governor John Baldacci’s spokesman, David Farmer, said: “The [prison’s] mental health system does the best it can do with very limited resources,” and “if there’s a failure,” it lies with Woodbury.

Related: Letters to the Portland editor: April 20, 2007, The trials of Bernard Baran, The mentally ill, criminalized, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Health and Fitness, Criminal Sentencing and Punishment, Crime,  More more >
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