PRISON CONDITIONS - Mass. sued for problems like Maine's

The Boston Globe reports today on a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of mentally ill inmates housed in solitary confinement for as long as 23 hours a day. The lawsuit alleges that prison officials are not respecting inmates' Eighth Amendment rights, which prevent the government from imposing "cruel and unusual punishment."

Though the lawsuit describes similar conditions to those in the Maine prison system, on which the Portland Phoenix has been reporting for more than a year, the suit is filed against the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. (The lawsuit is attached in PDF format. It is in two parts: complaint.pdf (133.62 KB) and complaintattachment.pdf (208.72 KB).)

We have sent copies of the article to legal activists, prison officials, and others around Maine, in hopes of jarring loose some of the stone walls that have been erected to humane treatment of prisoners, and to our reporting on the real conditions faced by Maine inmates.

Here are links to the stories on prison conditions by Portland Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley, in chronological order from November 2005 to the present:

Torture in Maine’s Prison, November 11, 2005

Reforming the Supermax, November 18, 2005

Pressure Rising, March 24, 2006

Arbitrary Imprisonment, July 21, 2006

Death in the Supermax, October 13, 2006

Hunger Strike at Maine’s Supermax Prison, October 18, 2006

Baldacci’s ‘Political Prisoner,’ November 17, 2006

Lockdown: What do Prison Officials Have to Hide?, December 15, 2006

sidebar: Stonewalling is Normal, December 15, 2006

Sluggish Response to Suicide, January 5, 2007

Brown Defense Team Enlarging, January 12, 2007

An Insult to Justice, February 2, 2007 — Lance’s speech upon receiving the Maine State Bar Association’s Excellence in Legal Journalism Award

Cracks in the Armor, February 2, 2007

Prison Guards Suit Up, March 16, 2007

Corrections Department Obstructs Free Press, March 16, 2007 (by Jeff Inglis)

Prison Madness Explained, March 30, 2007

Punish the Mentally Ill!, April 13, 2007

Prisoners As Commodities
, April 27, 2007

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