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Criminal Law

Latest Articles

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Higher education: How to do drugs in Boston

The leaves are changing color, and it's not because you ate a special mushroom pizza. The air is crisp, the nights are getting longer, and you're drinking coffee at 4 am. It's fall, and time to go back to school.
If you choose to partake, at least do it right
By VALERIE VANDE PANNE  |  September 03, 2010
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Are doctors complicit in prison torture?

In the past few years an outcry has arisen over the involvement of military and CIA medical professionals and psychologists in torture. Some critics have even suggested criminal prosecution of the medical staff involved or, at least, revocation of their
The Maine medical community looks at solitary confinement
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 23, 2010

A ‘moral victory’ against supermax torture

At times the legislative debate on LD 1611, the bill to limit solitary confinement of the state’s prisoners, became surreal.
Analysis
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 16, 2010
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Maine tortures women, too

The Maine Department of Corrections is an equal-opportunity torturer.
But Riverview presents an alternative
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 12, 2010

The cost of torture

In the end, whether mass solitary confinement continues at the Maine State Prison supermax may come down to an issue of money rather than right or wrong. And resolving that issue may come down to whether the state wants to pay more now to pay less in the
Solitary Confinement Bill Hearing
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 26, 2010

Seeking humane treatment

Some Maine people are taking moral responsibility for the way supermax inmates are treated.
State and national efforts well under way
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 19, 2010


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Secret Harbor

A home for the criminally insane it might not be, but the real-life Shutter Island is, like the one in the new Martin Scorsese film that hits theaters this week, a spooky and controversial land mass in Boston Harbor that is indeed off-limits to the publi
The real-life version of Scorsese's Shutter Island imports hundreds of homeless from the South End every evening; they’re among the few allowed on Boston Harbor’s isle of mystery.
By CHRISTOPHER KLEIN  |  February 19, 2010
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Hoop nightmare

It wasn’t quite the world-shattering, where-were-you-when moment as the space shuttle Challenger exploding into cottony plumes earlier that year. But I still remember my naive and dazed disbelief upon hearing that basketball star Len Bias had died of a
Len Bias’s death was more than just a basketball tragedy.
By MIKE MILIARD  |  October 30, 2009

Prison activist: Board chairman wrong

I just finished reading the letter from Jon Wilson. Mr. Tapley was correct, the Board of Visitors is not living up to its mandate to represent the public's concerns about the Maine State Prison, nor is it minimally accountable in that it never filed an a
Letters to the Portland Editor, September 11, 2009
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  September 11, 2009
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Ted's turn

A little-known provision in the crime bill now being negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee would greatly expand the number of prison cells available to house violent criminals, and it wouldn't be cost a dime. But it may be doomed unless Sen
Clinton caves on crime bill, but Kennedy can still salvage it
By AL GIORDANO  |  August 28, 2009

Miraculous Appearances

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,
Phoenix questions prompt action
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 21, 2009


Budget cuts

“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 c
Prison staffing crisis hits perilous level
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 07, 2009
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Prison in turmoil

Will reform have to wait for a new governor?
Investigators probe killing, stabbing, corruption allegations
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 19, 2009

Advocates renew challenge to punitive probation practices

At the conclusion of its 2008 session, the General Assembly passed a bill that would have reformed state criminal justice procedure for probationers charged with new crimes.
Violations
By ARIEL WERNER  |  December 03, 2008
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Freedom watch: Jailhouse bloc

With aromatic puffs of change, Bay State stoners rejoiced on Election Day.
Want to know the real reason the law-and-order set backs mandatory-minimum sentencing? They get their pockets lined by the 'prison-industrial complex.'
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE AND KYLE SMEALLIE  |  December 03, 2008
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Blunt object

Question 2 supporters claim Massachusetts district attorneys committed “at least 15 violations of Massachusetts campaign-finance and election laws” in the runup to the marijuana-decriminalization vote. 
The political fight over a November marijuana-reform ballot question has sparked a Battle of the Bong
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 24, 2008


The combat zone

This article originally appeared in the July 24, 1973 issue of the Boston Phoenix.
Who's who and what's what
By TOM SHEEHAN  |  August 14, 2008
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Darkness falls in the Dark Knight

“The night is darkest just before the dawn,” says District Attorney Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight .
Scars run deep in Christopher Nolan’s Götterdämmerung
By BRETT MICHEL  |  July 16, 2008
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Naked in the public square

In the finest Puritan tradition, Middlesex District Attorney Gerald Leone is crusading to save Harvard Square from the shock and awe of the nude human form.
Freedom Watch
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE AND JAMES TIERNEY  |  June 25, 2008
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The failure of ‘tough-on-crime’ tactics

It was after midnight, and Dawn Jacques lay sleepless in her cell at the Adult Correctional Institutions, shuddering. Bathed in sweat, she stared at the ceiling for hours until it blurred.
Left untreated, drug addicts pose greater costs for everyone else 
By TE-PING CHEN  |  May 08, 2008
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Study finds the ACI remains a debtors’ prison

Every day, an average of 18 people are incarcerated at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) due to their inability to pay court fines.
Credit check
By ARIEL WERNER  |  April 23, 2008


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The bong show

Some state legislators are using the flawed logic of prohibition to try to outlaw another plant they fear kids are using as a legal substitute for pot.
Massachusetts lawmakers are pushing to criminalize Salvia. Is this a test-run for marijuana-law reform?
By JAMES TIERNEY  |  April 23, 2008
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Scare tactics

A steady ripple of anti-comics sentiment was crystallized in the early ’50s.
When comics were too crude for school
By DOUGLAS WOLK  |  March 24, 2008
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The case of Milan Kohout

Kohout, a serious man, was engaged in the serious business of political protest.
The right of a performance artist represents the rights of all Americans. Plus, an opportunity with Cuba.
By EDITORIAL  |  February 21, 2008
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Framed?

The Boston Phoenix has uncovered substantial new information about the Cowans case.
The Boston Police investigation of Stephan Cowans led to a wrongful conviction. Was it incompetent — or corrupt?
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  February 07, 2008
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Righting a staggering wrong

US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan should launch an investigation into how that department managed to help convict the wrong man in the 1997 shooting of a Boston cop.
It is time for the US Attorney to investigate how and why the Boston police wrongfully convicted Stephan Cowans
By EDITORIAL  |  February 06, 2008


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Wave of reform

A wave of change is moving swiftly toward Maine’s jails and prisons. It could bring major reform — or a bureaucratic jumble.
There is now a chance to fix Maine’s broken corrections system, but only if the public speaks up
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 06, 2008
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Cash carousel

Even though the dollar has taken an international whupping of late, there remains at least one place where the love of the greenback remains strong: Beacon Hill.
Many things changed this year on Beacon Hill, but not the power of the almighty dollar
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  January 30, 2008
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Ring of fire

An ugly squabble between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the nation’s biggest phone companies has, in one nasty blow, recast the image of all the entities involved.
The deadbeat FBI fails to pay its phone bills and jeopardizes its wiretapping program
By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  January 23, 2008
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Menino’s hit list

At a recent political event, Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino asked Robert Crane, the former long-time state treasurer, how many years he had held that office.
40 potential candidates for the 2009 election who could take on the mayor — if they have the courage.
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  November 28, 2007