The Portland Phoenix's seven-years-and-counting series by Lance Tapley on torture in Maine's prison, most especially including conditions in solitary confinement, has gotten national recognition in an article that's part of the Columbia Journalism Review's most recent cover package on "race, class, and the media."
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that six terrorism suspects in the United Kingdom could be extradited to the United States, rejecting the suspects' argument that they would be subject to "inhuman and degrading treatment" in an American supermax prison.
Portland Phoenix writer Lance Tapley (whose long-running award-winning prison series has led national supermax coverage) and prison-rights activist Ray Luc Levasseur spoke to the BBC about prison conditions in an interview from The Studio in Portland (with audio help from Jim Begley).
Last month, I wrote about the demonization and criminalization of the needy, noting that rather than actually fix social problems, conservative politicians make them worse and then blame the victims for having the problems in the first place. My piece was called "Barely Hanging On: Fraud Isn't Killing Maine's Welfare System - Conservative Misunderstanding Is
Portland Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley has an article in the latest issue of the Boston Review. It's called "The Worst of the Worst: Supermax Torture in America," and is largely based on his five years of reporting on the Maine State Prison in the Phoenix. Go check it out!
Three Mainers, all activists for prisoner-rights, will be honored by the Maine Civil Liberties Union on Friday, with the MCLU's Roger Baldwin Award, named for a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Reverend Stan Moody (a former prison chaplain and former state legislator), Dr. Janis Petzel (president of the Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians), and Emily Posner (with the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition) are being recognized "for their extraordinary contributions to the campaign to end solitary confinement in Maine," according to an MCLU press release.
Lance Tapley, very familiar to Portland Phoenix readers, has a new national-scope piece on the national anti-supermax movement published at The Crime Report. Give it a read and see where Maine fits into the national effort to prevent torture in American prisons.
As Portland Phoenix readers well know, we've been covering living conditions in the Maine State Prison's solitary-confinement supermax unit for more than four years now.
But these issues are getting more national attention now. Recently, National Public Radio aired a significant piece on solitary confinement, which you can listen to by clicking here
Time of Day Productions (we're not actually sure who they are, but here's their YouTube profile) have posted a short film that has their viewpoint on the anti-solitary-confinement bill, LD 1611, that is moving through the Maine Legislature.
Take a look:
An anonymous, lightly disguised employee of the Maine Department of Corrections has posted a pair of videos in which he presents a series of statements prefaced and followed by assertions that "Lance Tapley is ignorant."
These are the most detailed and substantive comments regarding our four-years-and-counting in-depth investigation into Maine's treatment of inmates to emerge from any source in the Maine Department of Corrections in many months.
Torture in Maine's
Prison, November 11, 2005
The video of an "extraction" at the Maine
Reforming the Supermax, November 18, 2005)
Representative Jim Schatz (D-Blue Hill) has gotten seven of the 10 members of legislative leadership to back his proposal to tightly restrict the usage of solitary confinement in Maine's prisons. We have been writing about abuse of Maine prisoners at the hands of Maine guards and corrections officials for four years; mentally ill inmates are particularly harmed by these practices.
_By Lance Tapley
At least eight inmates of the Maine State Prison’s solitary-confinement
Supermax unit in Warren
are on a hunger strike, protesting not being allowed to have radios to listen
Recent letters to the Phoenix from two
of the protesters said 10 inmates had been on strike since Sunday, May 3. Denise
Lord, associate commissioner of the Department of Corrections, said on Wednesday, May 6, that “up to eight prisoners in the Special Management Unit .
The Black Bird Collective's eight-week petition drive gathering opposition to torture and human-rights abuses in the Maine State Prison will close tonight with an evening talk about Maine prison conditions, international human-rights laws, and the collective's efforts to support anti-torture legislation in Maine and at the federal level.
Well, sort of. While Maine Public Broadcasting has been good about paying attention to our ongoing revelations about the conditions - living and working - at the Maine State Prison, none of the state's daily papers has picked up what appears - to us - to be a major story. (Never mind, we like owning scoops for two-and-a-half years and counting.
I spent a night in a replica of a Guantánamo Bay prison cell last week, time during which I reflected on the perilous status of the men held at the offshore prison even the president says he wants to close. They are held in legal limbo, not charged with anything, rarely, if ever, having seen a judge - and if so, then only a military judge whose chain of command starts at the president and works its way down (not an independent judge who is a member of the third branch of government).