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Instead of cuts: guts

Raise taxes on the rich? Only one candidate says ‘yes’?
Let’s assume, reader, that you’re concerned about economic and social justice. For those in real need — people who are poor, sick, old, mentally ill, addicted, disabled — you want decent care. You’re concerned, too, about proper funding of schools, community colleges, and university campuses.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 06, 2010


Corrections disobeys another federal court order

Solitary Confinement
For decades, as it has with other court orders, the Maine Department of Corrections has apparently been breaching a 1973 federal court’s decree that forbids disciplinary solitary confinement at the Maine State Prison beyond 10 days for minor offenses, or 30 days for major ones.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 16, 2009

A mysterious new inmate death

Prison Scandal Watch
Despite a scandal earlier this year over a prisoner death, state corrections officials won’t allow the Phoenix to interview a Maine State Prison inmate who has claimed in letters that prison staff abused an ailing prisoner, Victor Valdez, before Valdez died in late November.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 10, 2009

Suspect speaks; victim’s family begins $1-million-plus lawsuit

 Prison Homicide
The widow of Sheldon Weinstein, the Maine State Prison inmate who died in April several days after allegedly being beaten by inmates, has taken the first step toward filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against prison guards, Department of Corrections “policy-making personnel,” and prison medical-care providers.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 04, 2009

Limiting Supermax solitary

 Legislation Drafted
Representative James Schatz, a Blue Hill Democrat, has proposed legislation to tightly limit when prisoners can be kept in the solitary confinement of the 100-man Supermax unit of the Maine State Prison in Warren.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 08, 2009


Less than equal

 State officials, including prejudiced human-rights commissioners, block inmate complaints
This story has a bias. It’s in favor of human rights for all people.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 02, 2009

Dangerous slurs

 Gay rights in prison
A heavily tattooed, self-described Satanist serving a life sentence for savagely murdering two people in Augusta in 1998 — his 16-year-old stepdaughter and his 87-year-old former landlady — inmate John L’Heureux, 39, is probably not the man Maine’s gay-rights groups would choose to represent their cause in the state prison, if they were inclined to choose anyone there.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 01, 2009


Prison ‘troublemaker’ confronts racism, medical abuse

Vacillating between grit and despair — between aggressive lawsuits and suicide attempts — Deane Brown, the prisoner who in 2005 blew the whistle on the torture of mentally ill inmates at the Maine State Prison’s solitary-confinement “Supermax” unit, is struggling against prison conditions in Maryland, where he was exiled by the Baldacci administration.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 09, 2009

Another Supermax hunger strike

Dungeon Watch
Protesting that nothing had been done by prison authorities to relieve the torture of prolonged solitary confinement, on August 17 inmates of the Maine State Prison’s 100-man Special Management Unit or “Supermax” reprised a hunger strike that had been abandoned last May.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 02, 2009

monkey list

Secret, unaccountable, and co-opted

If the prison Board of Visitors had done its job, it might have helped prevent several recent tragedies
The state prison in Warren has been hammered in recent months by an inmate murder and other violence, a prisoner hunger strike, legislative investigations exposing mismanagement and poor guard morale, and a request by human-rights groups for a federal probe of prisoner mistreatment.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 17, 2009

Miraculous Appearances

Phoenix questions prompt action
Two weeks after the Phoenix began its prison Board of Visitors interviews, which revealed the group had not produced annual reports as required by law and had not met with the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee in years, reports for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 suddenly materialized.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 17, 2009

Budget cuts

Prison staffing crisis hits perilous level
“Things are as tough at the prison right now as I’ve seen them in a long time,” state Corrections commissioner Martin Magnusson told the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on July 29. He spoke about the consequences of the staff cuts that the 915-inmate, 410-employee Maine State Prison in Warren has had to endure.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 05, 2009


Our journalism echoes our politics

If the press reflects the times, which way will it go now?
Why won’t the Maine press inquire deeply into major issues?
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 03, 2009

Freelance in Maine

Four decades of advocacy journalism
" Stop the press!" The press stopped.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 03, 2009

Federal investigation requested

More prison turmoil
Stirred into action by the murder of a wheelchair-bound prisoner, human-rights activists have asked the federal Department of Justice to investigate the treatment of Maine State Prison inmates.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 22, 2009

prison list

Prison in turmoil

Investigators probe killing, stabbing, corruption allegations
Will reform have to wait for a new governor?
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 17, 2009

baldacci list

Having it Both Ways

Should we blame Baldacci now?
 For years, Democratic Governor John Baldacci, governors before him, and many legislators have made job creation their loudest mantra. “Jobs!” echoes under Augusta’s State House dome as the rationale for cutting taxes and expenses (services) and increasing corporate tax breaks to make Maine more “business friendly.”
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 03, 2009

Stickin' it to the poor

Right wing celebrates state budget
The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a right-wing Portland think tank, has been bragging in news releases about how state leaders have followed its advice, approving a two-year state-government budget that, among other cuts, slashes school aid, programs for the needy, and state-employee pay.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 03, 2009


Maine Supermax inmates on hunger strike

Going hungry
At least eight inmates of the Maine State Prison’s solitary-confinement Supermax unit in Warren are on a hunger strike, protesting not being allowed to have radios to listen to.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 07, 2009

Do state officials know best?

Word From The Top
Like when the country goes to war, most news reports of how state government is handling the H1N1 “swine flu” crisis have just repeated what officials have said.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 07, 2009


Lawmakers to probe prison

Several investigations begin simultaneously
For years controversy has churned over the Maine State Prison's treatment of both inmates and correctional officers. For the first time, legislators have taken action.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 08, 2009

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