About Town - Prisons

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A daily paper notices our prison series!

Well, sort of. While Maine Public Broadcasting has been good about paying attention to our ongoing revelations about the conditions - living and working - at the Maine State Prison, none of the state's daily papers has picked up what appears - to us - to be a major story. (Never mind, we like owning scoops for two-and-a-half years and counting. Thanks, daily journalists!)

But today the Bangor Daily News has broken the silence. Admittedly, it's with an opinion piece by someone not on the paper's staff. But now, at least, readers of the BDN who happen not to read the Phoenix will find out about how badly Maine officials have been treating Maine inmates - Mainers torturing Mainers - for years.

Thanks, John Buell of Southwest Harbor!

8/19/2008 9:15:00 AM by Jeff Inglis | Comments [0] |  

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gitmo detainees to have their day in court

I spent a night in a replica of a Guantánamo Bay prison cell last week, time during which I reflected on the perilous status of the men held at the offshore prison even the president says he wants to close. They are held in legal limbo, not charged with anything, rarely, if ever, having seen a judge - and if so, then only a military judge whose chain of command starts at the president and works its way down (not an independent judge who is a member of the third branch of government).

But this morning, some good news. The US Supreme Court has granted Gitmo detainees the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts. Perhaps now we will get to see the evidence - if any exists - against these men, and start either prosecuting them or releasing them.


6/12/2008 11:17:00 AM by Jeff Inglis | Comments [0] |  

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Finding out about Guantánamo

Today is a big day in the nation's human-rights history. Five "detainees" captured and held for their alleged roles in terrorism and other acts against the United States who are being imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay are facing a US military judge today in open court. What happens to them will provide powerful evidence of how far down the human-rights-abuse spectrum we have slid.

This weekend, Amnesty International, the NAACP, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine Veterans for Peace (and I think a few other groups) have gotten together not only to put a replica of a Guantánamo Bay prison cell in Monument Square for people to check out (read next week's Portland Phoenix to find out more about what it's like inside), but also to host a giant pile of related events around the city. (Here's a photo from this morning's rally kicking everything off, too.)

Chris Gray told you about some of them in "8 Days A Week" in the paper this week, but here's the full schedule:

Tonight's big event is a forum with Pardiss Kebriaei of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights (which has spearheaded organizing hundreds of attorneys to volunteer their time to defend detainees); Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International; and Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney working on Guantánamo cases. That will be at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, in Portland, at 6:30 pm. Admission is free.

Through Thursday, June 5, "Torture Preserved," sculptures of torture victims, by Lin Linsberger of Gorham, will be on display at the Meg Perry Center, 644 Congress Street, in Portland.

Tomorrow, Friday, June 6, will see a noon reading of poems from Guantánamo prisoners by Mad Horse Theatre Company, in Monument Square.

There will also be a showing of Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Rory Kennedy's documentary of the abuse and torture of inmates in a US-run prison in Iraq, at 7 pm at the Williston West Church, 32 Thomas Street, Portland.

On Saturday, June 7, There will be a conference about post-traumatic stress disorder sponsored by Maine Veterans for Peace, at the University of Southern Maine's Abromson Center, 88 Bedford Street, Portland, from 9 am to 4 pm.

And at 4 pm on Saturday, the Senior Players troupe of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USM will read from the Ed Schwartz book Faithful Voices: Exploring Beliefs in Action (Quaker Press, 2005).


6/5/2008 2:03:00 PM by Jeff Inglis | Comments [0] |  

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Prison life ain't so good

Well, we knew that. But here's an edited transcript of a talk Phoenix freelancer Lance Tapley gave last week at the Meg Perry Center, home to Peace Action Maine and the Foglight Collective.

By the way, you can hear this talk online at (mp3 here) or rent it and many other progressive videos from Roger Leisner's Radio Free Maine at Videoport in downtown Portland.

Prison folly

Why? And what can be done?


The following is an edited excerpt from a speech given by Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley on “Human Rights and Maine’s Prisons” at a Peace Action Maine meeting in Portland on March 7.  Since 2005, he has written about physical abuse and other wrongdoing in the prisons, especially in the maximum-security, solitary-confinement Special Management Unit or “Supermax” inside the Maine State Prison in Warren.


By Lance Tapley


I knew nothing about this subject.  Most people don’t.  Unfortunately, most people don’t care about it—at best.  Including many who consider themselves compassionate liberals.  They appear to care more about the wrongs at Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo than about the abuse suffered by tens of thousands of human beings within America’