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Supermax

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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)
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 29, 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.
Shakeup continues
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 17, 2011
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Reform comes to the supermax

Less than three months into his job, Maine's new corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte has begun to dramatically reform the Maine State Prison's long-troubled solitary-confinement "supermax" unit.
New commissioner cuts population by more than half; prisoner-rights advocates help in the reform
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 27, 2011
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5 years against torture

The Portland Phoenix ’s prison investigation, focusing on the Maine supermax, has published 75 stories over the past five years. Here are some of the key pieces, with brief updates on what, if anything, has happened since.
Penal past
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 12, 2010

Death penalty possible for Watland

Gary Watland, the brilliant and mentally ill convicted murderer whose 2006 scheme to have his wife smuggle a loaded handgun into the Maine State Prison in Warren was foiled when another prisoner tipped off officials, faces a possible death penalty if co
Prison Murder
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 28, 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

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

Anti-solitary campaign expands

As the February 17 State House public hearing approaches on the bill to restrict solitary confinement at the Maine State Prison, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), which sparked national debate about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, has a
Stopping Supermax Torture
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 05, 2010
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Corrections disobeys another federal court order

For decades, as it has with other court orders, the Maine Department of Corrections has apparently been breaching a 1973 federal court’s decree that forbids disciplinary solitary confinement at the Maine State Prison beyond 10 days for minor offenses, or
Solitary Confinement
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 18, 2009

Suspect speaks; victim’s family begins $1-million-plus lawsuit

The widow of Sheldon Weinstein, the Maine State Prison inmate who died in April several days after allegedly being beaten by inmates, has taken the first step toward filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against prison guards, Department of Corrections “policy
 Prison Homicide
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 06, 2009


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
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Prison ‘troublemaker’ confronts racism, medical abuse

Vacillating between grit and despair — between aggressive lawsuits and suicide attempts — Deane Brown, the prisoner who in 2005 blew the whistle on the torture of mentally ill inmates at the Maine State Prison’s solitary-confinement “Supermax” unit, is s
Exiled
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 11, 2009

Another Supermax hunger strike

Protesting that nothing had been done by prison authorities to relieve the torture of prolonged solitary confinement, on August 17 inmates of the Maine State Prison’s 100-man Special Management Unit or “Supermax” reprised a hunger strike that had been ab
Dungeon Watch
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 04, 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

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


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
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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