Pressure rising

By LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 23, 2006

Responses to the articles
“A lot of the staff was very upset” about the previous Supermax articles, says Warden Merrill.

Indeed, guards past and present and their family members, wrote letters to the editor or in other ways expressed in detail how difficult it is for guards in their dangerous, low-paid jobs — a subject they felt our series neglected. Most of the feedback received, however, was positive. Several prisoners, family members, and advocates for prisoners called and wrote pleading for coverage of injustices they believed had been done to prisoners other than those mentioned in the articles.

Yet as part of its accreditation process national ACA officials recently issued statements highly praising the prison. The Department of Corrections and Governor John Baldacci trumpeted them loudly in a press release — it received a good deal of attention in the daily papers — even though the prison still has another hoop of evaluation to go through before it actually receives accreditation.

“I don’t see how the facility can be accredited while this is going on,” Senator Nutting says, referring to the Supermax’s treatment of mentally ill prisoners.

Skepticism exists in other quarters about ACA accreditation. The Web site of the magazine In These Times lists accredited prisons where prisoners have rioted over conditions (www.inthesetimes.com).

Some former Supermax workers got in touch to say they don’t see how it can be easily reformed.

“The problem in the Max is so much more multifaceted than you could ever imagine,” says Anne Leidinger of Appleton, in an e-mail. She worked there for two years as a nurse. “And I would say to those who have not ever had first-hand experience in being in the Max day after day, that you cannot change just one layer of the problem. And the [restraint] chair is just one layer.”

But at the legislative committee meeting Commissioner Magnusson said changing conditions in the Supermax is now “my top priority.”

Email the author
Lance Tapley: ltapley@prexar.com

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  | 
  Topics: News Features , Politics, Health and Fitness, American Correctional Association,  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