bestnom1000x50

Martin Magnusson

Latest Articles

Feat_34770008_list

Lock-up lessons

Fixing Maine’s troubled prisons is not an impossible task. In fact, if the state treated adult inmates more along the lines of how it treats juvenile offenders, prison critics — including, surprisingly, the new corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte — t
The new corrections commissioner wants Maine prisons to learn from the state’s juvenile-treatment model
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 08, 2011
feat_ponte_mugshot_list

At a turning point

When Joseph Ponte was told that Maine's longtime corrections commissioner Martin Magnusson had once informed the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, after a dramatic hostage-taking, that there were "probably 300 inmates right now with a weapon in
LePage's nominee to head Corrections has the skills to fix Maine's broken prison system. Will the governor and lawmakers give Joseph Ponte the tools?
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 11, 2011
TJI_Ponte_list

Prison administration

Joseph Ponte, 64, a veteran warden for the nation's largest private-prison operator, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), has been nominated by Republican Governor Paul LePage to be the state's Corrections commissioner, replacing Martin Magnusso
Prison administration
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 28, 2011

Penal future

The few things that Republican Governor-elect Paul LePage was reported as saying on crime-and-punishment issues during the campaign mostly sounded harsh and, of course, right-wing.
Will LePage's zeal to cut the budget make prisoners and guards bleed?
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 12, 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

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


Limiting Supermax solitary

Representative James Schatz, a Blue Hill Democrat, has proposed legislation to tightly limit when prisoners can be kept in the solitary confinement of the 100-man Supermax unit of the Maine State Prison in Warren.
 Legislation Drafted
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 09, 2009
FEAT_prisoner_list

Less than equal

This story has a bias. It’s in favor of human rights for all people.
 State officials, including prejudiced human-rights commissioners, block inmate complaints
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 02, 2009
10th_AAA111_list

10 years later, we told you so

Like many in the alternative press, we pride ourselves on being ahead of the game. Sometimes, of course, that means we're wrong about what might be coming down the pike — that's part of the risk of being "out front" and not just reacting to the news as
Ten years of being right (well, mostly)
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  September 18, 2009
monkey list

Secret, unaccountable, and co-opted

The state prison in Warren has been hammered in recent months by an inmate murder and other violence, a prisoner hunger strike, legislative investigations exposing mismanagement and poor guard morale, and a request by human-rights groups for a federal pr
If the prison Board of Visitors had done its job, it might have helped prevent several recent tragedies
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 14, 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


prison list

Prison in turmoil

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

Arbitrary injustice

Fears doesn't like the particular prison where he now resides. He would prefer to be in one near his family in Arizona, and not in solitary confinement.
Sent to Supermax solitary confinement
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 10, 2009
090410_Prison_l

Lawmakers to probe prison

For years controversy has churned over the Maine State Prison's treatment of both inmates and correctional officers. For the first time, legislators have taken action.
Several investigations begin simultaneously
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 10, 2009

Baldacci rejects reform, embraces corporate prisons again

Awareness is dawning around the country that 30 years of lengthy, tough-on-crime prison sentences have constructed an unsustainably expensive penal system.
Prison watch
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 21, 2009

Prisoners’ support services slashed

Governor John Baldacci announced on December 16 that he had taken significant steps toward warehousing prisoners instead of rehabilitating them.
 Baldacci’s Warehouse
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 23, 2008


081212_tapley_list

Corrections changes

Like a movie hero, the NAACP’s new, young national president, Benjamin Jealous, swept into the 900-inmate Maine State Prison in Warren on Monday, quelling protests among the prisoners and, at least temporarily, rescuing the organization’s prison chapter
NAACP leader challenges Maine prison policies
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 10, 2008
cov_feat_listPhxDominosCove.jpg

Falling down

Critics of the state Department of Corrections say the hostage-taking last June at the Maine State Prison dramatically illustrates that the concrete, high-tech lockup in Warren is showing cracks from stress on the prison guards.
Mistreatment of Maine prison guards lands heavily on inmates
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 05, 2008
feat_side_prison_solitaryLI.jpg

Three years and counting

For the past three years, Portland Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley has been the only reporter in Maine to pay attention to the appalling conditions suffered by inmates in the Maine State Prison
The Portland Phoenix' s prison scoops keep piling up
By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  November 05, 2008

Letters to the Portland editor, August 22, 2008

We don’t expect every customer to love our establishment.
Rogue Dead Guy Ale is not an IPA
By LETTERS TO THE PORTLAND EDITOR  |  August 20, 2008
sweeplist.jpg

Time for a clean sweep?

In early 2007, Rhonda Dawson, a thoughtful, candid, 45-year-old African-American guard at the Maine State Prison in Warren, quit her job after four years because, she says, of racist taunting from her fellow correctional officers.
A former guard calls for prison reform
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 23, 2008


feat_prison_Handcuffslist

Imprisoned facts

Although I had already written a lot about abuse in the prison, this May 21 interview with Dorney, a 28-year-old Portland man serving 20 years for assault, was what I had been waiting for.
Will the truth escape from a break in the prison wall?
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 28, 2008

Are the prisons overcrowded?

I am asking the whole Legislative Committee to physically go and inspect the prison to ascertain how much bed space is there.
Letters to the Portland editor: February 15, 2008
By LETTERS TO THE PORTLAND EDITOR  |  February 13, 2008

The loud business drumbeat

The majority legislative Dems do not share Baldacci’s enthusiasm for these cuts, but they seem resigned to them.
Who really cares about the poor, the sick, the elderly, or the mentally ill? Keep searching.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 30, 2008
list_feat_prison_Blood

Stabbed in the back

Right now, a bewildered Mark Cible is on a nightmarish journey through some of America’s most violent prisons.
Officials reward a prison hero by endangering his life
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 12, 2007

Letters to the Portland editor: May 4, 2007

God bless the First Amendment.
Go, Lance, go!
By LETTERS TO THE PORTLAND EDITOR  |  May 02, 2007


061215_list_cells

Lockdown

If you were a reporter and you received a letter like the one excerpted below, what would you make of it? Lance Tapley discusses reporting the prisons  
What do prison officials have to hide?
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 14, 2006

Stonewalling is normal

I could cite many examples of the difficulty in reporting to the Maine public what goes on behind the cement and bureaucratic walls of the public’s prison system — especially, in reporting brutal practices. I will give just a few.
 Reporting the prison system
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 13, 2006
061124_prison_list

Baldacci’s ‘political prisoner’

John Baldacci’s administration on November 13 sent the Maine State Prison’s chief human-rights advocate, inmate Deane Brown, to a dangerous prison more than 500 miles away, in Baltimore. Brown’s lawyer and his best friend believe this decision was in ret
A life at risk
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 21, 2006

Hunger strike at Maine's Supermax Prison

Inmates at the Maine State Prison’s solitary-confinement Supermax unit in Warren have been on a hunger strike since Saturday night. Death in the Supermax. By Lance Tapley
Suicide attempts reported
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 18, 2006