She is one of a small group of supporters who have tried to keep up his courage. Ron Huber, 53, host of a Rockland radio show to which Brown placed on-air telephone calls about inmate treatment when he was at the prison in Warren, has been demanding that Governor John Baldacci bring him back to Maine. Earlier this summer in Augusta Huber had a confrontation on the issue with an angry David Farmer, Baldacci’s chief press aide, who told him the governor backs up the Corrections department’s decisions.

Afterwards, a solitary Huber — he has a mild, bespectacled, professorial air — knelt in the State House’s Rotunda before a glass case containing the red, white, blue, and gold 1862 First Maine Heavy Artillery battle flag. He ceremonially pronounced aloud the names of the 20-plus Maine prisoners now in out-of-state prisons, thumping on a drum after each name.

Maine prison officials said they sent Brown to Maryland because he was a “threat to the facility,” though he has no history of violence. He is serving a 59-year sentence for a string of burglaries. Last year he lost a federal civil-rights lawsuit asking that he be returned to Maine.

Brown’s experience in Maryland, Huber says, shows “what a powerful tool it is to exile people. It’s a lot easier for people to break down when they’re far from their social matrix.”

Brown’s experience also shows “the frightening ability of prison officials to bury an inmate who has the courage to speak out against injustice,” says David Bidler of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition. He suggested supporters write to Deane Brown at #339-621, North Branch Correctional Institution, 14100 McMullen Highway S.W., Cumberland, MD 21502.

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