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Whistleblower returns; Maine a prison-reform model
On Valentine's Day, prisoner Deane Brown, who sounded an alarm that drew international attention to the savagery of solitary confinement and other abuses in the Maine State Prison's "supermax" unit, was returned to the Warren prison after an exile of mo
| March 22, 2013
Prison whistleblower to return to Maine
Maine corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte has notified Deane Brown, the inmate whistleblower who in 2005 was the original source for the Phoenix 's lengthy series on prison abuse, that he will be allowed to return to Maine.
| December 28, 2012
Balancing the state budget is easy. If by "easy," you mean "ridiculously difficult."
Politics + Other Mistakes
| December 07, 2012
Honored for torture exposé, Tapley points out more work to be done
At an October 26 event attended by five previous awardees and nearly 30 others, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine presented Portland Phoenix writer Lance Tapley with its 2012 Roger Baldwin Award, recognizing his nearly 100 stories over seven
| November 09, 2012
Tapley racks up another award
Portland Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley, who has covered conditions in the Maine State Prison and throughout the state's corrections system since 2005, will be honored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine for "outstanding advocacy
| October 12, 2012
Whistle-blower asks to come home
In 2011 reform-minded Commissioner Joseph Ponte of the Maine Department of Corrections set up a formal process — apparently, rare in the United States — for prisoners transferred to out-of-state prison systems to apply to come home.
| September 28, 2012
Solitary confinement: bad for chimps, okay for humans?
Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins is a key cosponsor of legislation that, among other provisions, would outlaw psychologically damaging solitary confinement for more than 500 chimpanzees caged for research in federally supported laboratories.
| August 24, 2012
Maine a model for solitary-confinement reform
In the first-ever congressional hearing June 19 on the widespread use of solitary confinement in America's prisons, Senator Richard Durbin spoke favorably of the Maine prison system's substantial reduction of inmate isolation as he pressed the federal p
| July 06, 2012
Privatized prison medical care is sick
For years complaints that the privatized medical care at the state's prisons was inadequate and abusive have poured into the mail and email boxes of prisoner advocates, the state's Corrections commissioner, and the press.
But will cutting costs cure it? Joe Ponte's balancing act
| December 16, 2011
Maine's GOP AG and gov again imprison a social problem rather than solving it
Last month, I wrote about the demonization and criminalization of the needy, noting that rather than actually fix social problems, conservative politicians make them worse...
| December 12, 2011
Senator Collins helps derail prison reform
As a result of the apparent decision by congressional Republicans to oppose almost everything Democrats are for, Maine Senator Susan Collins — who claims to be above partisanship — helped derail Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb's bill to establish a
| November 11, 2011
Reducing solitary confinement
Installed by conservative Republican Governor Paul LePage last winter, Maine's new corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte, 64, immediately set about reforming the prison system.
Exclusive Interview: How Maine’s corrections commissioner dropped supermax numbers by 70 percent . . . and became a national leader in prison reform (if anybody follows)
| October 29, 2011
The secret's out
Need free health care? Why not just go to prison?
| July 15, 2011
Top prison officials fired
In a continuing shakeup at the troubled Maine State Prison, new Corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte has fired six top officials including its controversial security chief, Deputy Warden James O'Farrell.
| June 17, 2011
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
| April 08, 2011
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
| January 28, 2011
Supermax coverage continues
Portland Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley has an article in the latest issue of the Boston Review. It's called "The Worst of the Worst: Supermax...
| December 17, 2010
Walking on broken glass
There must be some kind of law that kicks in whenever a prominent politician leaves office, requiring every columnist and pundit to blather on at length about the triumphs and tragedies of that esteemed figure's checkered career.
A (very) short list of Baldacci's successes
| December 17, 2010
LePage interested in corporate prisons
In the gubernatorial campaign the controversial Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison operator, spent $25,000 on behalf of Republican candidate Paul LePage, now the governor-elect.
The $25,000 contribution question
| December 17, 2010
Prisoner-rights advocates honored by MCLU
Three Mainers, all activists for prisoner-rights, will be honored by the Maine Civil Liberties Union on Friday, with the MCLU's Roger Baldwin Award, named for...
| October 13, 2010
The reform-proof prison
From the beginning of her tenure as commissioner, Department of Correction (DOC) commissioner Kathleen Dennehy clashed with union loyalists intent on maintaining the status quo.
Why Massachusetts' correctional system hasn't gotten any better
| September 10, 2010
If the United States does not suffer a death wish, then it must be saddled with a streak of masochism as wide as the Mississippi River.
Big banks escape effective regulation; plus DOMA and "prison reform"
| July 16, 2010
The 13th Annual Muzzle Awards
A year and a half into the Age of Obama, we are learning a lesson we should have figured out long ago — that repression, once in place, is rarely rolled back all the way, and that liberals no less than conservatives are reluctant to give up power.
A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England
| July 02, 2010
Pressing Obama for an answer
Convicted murderer Darrell Jones has accomplished more in the worlds of media, entertainment, and activism from behind bars over the past 25 years than most free people do in a lifetime.
Inside Job Dept.
| May 28, 2010
The battle against supermaxes expands
Lance Tapley, very familiar to Portland Phoenix readers, has a new national-scope piece on the national anti-supermax movement published at The Crime Report. Give it...
| May 18, 2010
How can those in the box think outside of the box?
I was disgusted on multiple levels with what the article revealed about the Maine State Prison.
Letters to the Portland editor, May 14, 2010
PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS
| May 14, 2010
Radical night out in Portland
“People are upset about Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib,” Noam Chomsky told 750 people packed into the Woodfords Congregational Church last Saturday night, “but if you’re concerned about human rights, take a walk into a maximum-security prison.”
| April 30, 2010
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
| April 23, 2010
Tonight: Explore solitary confinement with National Geographic
As Portland Phoenix readers well know, we've been covering living conditions in the Maine State Prison's solitary-confinement supermax unit for more than four years now.But...
| April 20, 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.
| April 16, 2010
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