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Why the prison warden got fired

Getting Answers
Corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte told the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee on January 16 that, because of state personnel law, he couldn't publicly say — until severance negotiations are finished — why he had fired, six days earlier, Maine State Prison warden Patricia Barnhart. She has said she can't say why, either.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 23, 2013

Gangs study killed

Lawmaker Apology
On February 9 the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, which had already informally decided against LD 1707, the bill that would have created severe penalties for people associated with criminal street gangs, killed a substitute proposal for a study to be done on how to define gangs and how to have police share information on them.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 15, 2012

Democrats celebrate victory in the face of defeat

They cozy up to Republicans and the rich
Senator Dawn Hill, of Cape Neddick, the lead Democrat on the Legislature's Appropriations Committee, which fashioned the recently passed $6-billion state budget, explained to the Phoenix why she voted to reduce income and estate taxes on the rich while also voting for cuts in help to the poor and in teacher and state-worker pensions.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 06, 2011

Corporate prison bill 'carried over'

Inmate Exile Dept.
Although LD 690, A BILL TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR "EXILED" PRISONERS TO RETURN TO MAINE , was killed May 6 by the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, political activist Ron Huber, who had pushed it, declared "victory in Augusta" on his Facebook page.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 12, 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

Reefer medness

For five years, Rhode Island's medical marijuana movement has been a grassroots affair. For better or worse, it's about to go mainstream
In the five years since the General Assembly approved Rhode Island's medical marijuana law, licensed smokers have operated in a sort of smoke-filled netherworld.
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  February 10, 2011

At a turning point

LePage's nominee to head Corrections has the skills to fix Maine's broken prison system. Will the governor and lawmakers give Joseph Ponte the tools?
When Joseph Ponte was told that Maine's longtime corrections commissioner Martin Magnusson had once informed the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, after a dramatic hostage-taking, that there were "probably 300 inmates right now with a weapon in their hand" — and that nobody at the committee meeting seemed disturbed by this information — Ponte's reaction was "I would be extremely perturbed by that."
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 09, 2011

Little things

On shrinking legislatures
In the midst of the new Republican majority's mania to reduce the size and cost of state government, I offer some advice and a warning.
By AL DIAMON  |  January 12, 2011

Seeking the State House

Comparing candidates for the Maine Legislature
Candidates for the Maine Legislature aren't always brief in their answers. Read expanded responses at Phoenix-endorsed candidates have asterisks next to their names.
By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  March 29, 2012

Less of you

Reform is a bad idea
When the Legislature gets reformed, things get worse.
By AL DIAMON  |  August 18, 2010

By  |  January 01, 0001

21st century breakdown

Ne'er has there been a sweeter gig than being secretary
The office of Maine's secretary of state has been around since we split from Massachusetts in 1820.
By AL DIAMON  |  January 06, 2010

Missing in action

The legislature vacations while crisis looms
Good-government advocates often breathe a sigh of relief when the legislature quits Beacon Hill.
By EDITORIAL  |  December 09, 2009

By  |  January 01, 0001

Hey guv: stop slashing!

State budget cuts just make the recession worse
It seems as if there’s no light at the end of the state’s gloomy fiscal tunnel.
By LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 31, 2008

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