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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

AG exonerates guards

Critics of the state's prison system will press for an independent investigation after expressing dismay with the attorney general's long-delayed conclusion October 28 that Maine State Prison inmate Victor Valdez died last November from "a natural death.
Valdez prison death
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 05, 2010
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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
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 10, 2010
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Troubled Over Bridgewater

On a winter evening around 11 pm, the former superintendent of Old Colony Correctional Center walked into a Rhode Island restaurant with a gun in his pocket.
Old Colony Correctional Center has been plagued by racism, suicide, and brutality — and things are only getting worse
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 10, 2010
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A prison obituary: the tragedy of Victor Valdez

Joking among themselves, a small group of guards entered Close E pod. "Lock up!" one of them suddenly commanded the prisoners: go to your cells.
A homicide? The state police are investigating. A cover-up? Who will investigate?
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 30, 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
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  May 14, 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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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

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

A mysterious new inmate death

Despite a scandal earlier this year over a prisoner death, state corrections officials won’t allow the Phoenix to interview a Maine State Prison inmate who has claimed in letters that prison staff abused an ailing prisoner, Victor Valdez, before Valdez
Prison Scandal Watch
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 11, 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


State should protect inmates’ rights

As Lance Tapley points out, denying prisoners access to human-rights protections is a mistake (see "Less Than Equal," October 2).
Letters to the Portland Editor, October 16, 2009
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  October 16, 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

Injustice everywhere

Thank you for the timely interview with Harvey Silverglate.
Letters to the Portland Editor, October 9, 2009
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  October 09, 2009

Dangerous slurs

A heavily tattooed, self-described Satanist serving a life sentence for savagely murdering two people in Augusta in 1998 — his 16-year-old stepdaughter and his 87-year-old former landlady — inmate John L’Heureux, 39, is probably not the man Maine’s gay-
 Gay rights in prison
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 02, 2009
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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


Time for law to end torture

In a collaborative effort between human-rights activists and incarcerated Mainers, a bill to end the use and abuse of solitary confinement has been drafted and will be submitted to legislators soon.
Letters to the Portland Editor, September 18, 2009
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  September 18, 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