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Michael James

Latest Articles

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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Screams from solitary

The 132-man supermax unit within the 925-man Maine State Prison is an expensive, taxpayer-funded torture chamber that for 18 years has sucked in mostly nonviolent, mostly mentally ill prisoners and ground them up by means of mind-destroying solitary conf
‘By dehumanizing prisoners, we dehumanize ourselves.’
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 19, 2010
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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

Putting an end to the hunger strike

Maine State Prison officials ended a hunger strike involving at least 10 inmates of the solitary-confinement Supermax unit in Warren by threatening to withhold the strikers’ psychotropic medications, according to allegations by an inmate who participated
Prison Watch
By LANCE TAPLEY and JEFF INGLIS  |  May 15, 2009

Maine Supermax inmates on hunger strike


_By Lance TapleyAt least eight inmates of the Maine State Prison’s solitary-confinement Supermax un...
By Jeff Inglis  |  May 06, 2009

The mentally ill, criminalized

She is afraid he will continue to be kept in the Supermax, which will make him worse, she says.
Common nonsense
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 10, 2008


Theatrical progress

As an avid theater-goer, there are times when I hanker to positively consume a fine play.
A venue-to-venue tour of Portland
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  January 02, 2008
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Mentally ill inmate gets care, despite state's objections

The guards “tortured me there,” he said, adding that he got “zero” mental-health treatment in prison.
Prison watch
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 08, 2007

Press behind bars

As a reporter, I can attest that the rules the state agreed to in the 1970s on news-media access to prisoners have been violated by the Corrections Department in its recent practices.

By LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 27, 2007
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Punish the mentally ill!

Officials in Maine attorney general Steven Rowe’s office recently made a legislative effort regarding mentally ill prisoners in a controversial way.
In the lobby
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 11, 2007
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An insult to justice

Portland Phoenix freelancer Lance Tapley was given the Maine State Bar Association's Excellence in Legal Journalism Award last week at the association's annual meeting.
Truth to power
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 31, 2007


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
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Arbitrary imprisonment

Joseph Steinberger thought he had won one of the most important trials of his legal career.
In a mysterious Guantánamo-like move, the state refuses to follow a judge’s order committing a mentally ill prisoner to Riverview
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 19, 2006
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Pressure rising

Four months ago, a Phoenix investigative series revealed abuses of inmates at the “Supermax,” a 100-bed, solitary-confinement, maximum-security facility inside the Maine State Prison in Warren; since our articles were published, several important dev
Supermax torture revisited
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 23, 2006