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Whistleblower returns; Maine a prison-reform model

Prodigal Sons  
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 more than six years.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 27, 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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 26, 2012

Finding balance

Politics + Other Mistakes  
Balancing the state budget is easy. If by "easy," you mean "ridiculously difficult."
By AL DIAMON  |  December 05, 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 years exposing solitary confinement and other torture of inmates in Maine's prison system.
By JEFF INGLIS  |  November 08, 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 for prison reform."
By JEFF INGLIS  |  October 10, 2012

Whistle-blower asks to come home

Exiles’ Return
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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 26, 2012

Solitary confinement: bad for chimps, okay for humans?

Primate Rights  
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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  August 22, 2012

Maine a model for solitary-confinement reform

Setting Examples
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 prisons chief to re-examine that agency's use of it.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 03, 2012

Privatized prison medical care is sick

But will cutting costs cure it? Joe Ponte's balancing act
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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 14, 2011

By  |  January 01, 0001

Senator Collins helps derail prison reform

'Toxic' Washington
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 bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission. Maine's Olympia Snowe and three other Republicans joined unanimous Senate Democrats to support it.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 09, 2011

Reducing solitary confinement

Exclusive Interview: How Maine’s corrections commissioner dropped supermax numbers by 70 percent . . . and became a national leader in prison reform (if anybody follows)
Installed by conservative Republican Governor Paul LePage last winter, Maine's new corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte, 64, immediately set about reforming the prison system.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 02, 2011

The secret's out

Need free health care? Why not just go to prison?
By MATT BORS  |  July 13, 2011

Top prison officials fired

Shakeup continues
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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 15, 2011

Lock-up lessons

The new corrections commissioner wants Maine prisons to learn from the state’s juvenile-treatment model
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 — think the prisons might not only become more humane, they might actually “correct” the prisoners.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 14, 2011

New Corrections commissioner nominated

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 Magnusson.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 27, 2011

By  |  January 01, 0001

Walking on broken glass

A (very) short list of Baldacci's successes
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.
By AL DIAMON  |  December 15, 2010

LePage interested in corporate prisons

The $25,000 contribution question
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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 26, 2011

By  |  January 01, 0001

The reform-proof prison

Why Massachusetts' correctional system hasn't gotten any better
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.
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 08, 2010

Size matters

Big banks escape effective regulation; plus DOMA and "prison reform"
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.
By EDITORIAL  |  July 14, 2010

The 13th Annual Muzzle Awards

A look at the dishonorable enemies of free speech and personal liberty in New England
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.
By DAN KENNEDY  |  July 05, 2010

Pressing Obama for an answer

Inside Job Dept.
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.
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  May 27, 2010

By  |  January 01, 0001

How can those in the box think outside of the box?

Letters to the Portland editor, May 14, 2010
I was disgusted on multiple levels with what the article revealed about the Maine State Prison.

By  |  January 01, 0001

Are doctors complicit in prison torture?

The Maine medical community looks at solitary confinement
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 professional licenses.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 21, 2010

By  |  January 01, 0001

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.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  April 15, 2010

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