State should protect inmates’ rights

Letters to the Portland Editor, October 16, 2009
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  October 14, 2009

As Lance Tapley points out, denying prisoners access to human-rights protections is a mistake (see "Less Than Equal," October 2). Prisoners lose their right to liberty -- not their right to be treated with dignity. Indeed, when the state removes someone's freedom, it takes on an absolute responsibility to protect that person from abuse and discrimination.

Blanket policies to reject grievances by prisoners, like the one practiced by the Maine Human Rights Commission, are an affront to the rule of law and to the very rights that the Commission is meant to protect. While ostensibly intended to avoid frivolous complaints, such policies hurt prisoners who have legitimate claims about their treatment and allow abusive officials to act with impunity.

The best way to ensure that prisons are safe and orderly -- for inmates and staff alike -- is through transparency and oversight. The Maine Human Rights Commission should amend its process and ensure that prisoners' grievances are fully addressed.

Lovisa Stannow
Executive Director, Just Detention International
Los Angeles

Related: Less than equal, Time for law to end torture, Africans suffer while the world stands by, More more >
  Topics: Letters , Politics, Criminal Sentencing and Punishment, Political Policy,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   DONE WAITING FOR PATIENT SAFETY  |  March 07, 2013
    As an employee in downtown Portland as well as a resident, I've been exposed to a climate of escalating hostility surrounding the entrance to the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England offices.
  •   NOT BUYING THE MOSS LEGEND  |  January 30, 2013
    In the January 11 Portland Phoenix, book reviewer Charles Taylor lauds Kate Moss — the notoriously waifish model — as the "most extraordinary photographic muse of our era."
  •   BIRDS, NOISE VS. WIND POWER  |  December 31, 2012
    I was very disappointed that the Phoenix chose to endorse subsidizing the wind power industry.
  •   COURAGE IN JOURNALISM  |  November 28, 2012
    What does it mean to be a courageous journalist?
  •   AN ORGAN RECIPIENT SPEAKS UP  |  October 31, 2012
    An article on this subject ("On Being Undead," by Jeff Inglis, October 26) needs to be done with great thought and care.

 See all articles by: PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS