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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 20, 2013

Baldacci: watch your left flank

2014 Race
If John Baldacci runs for governor in 2014, he will encounter trouble on his left.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 13, 2013

Rare: Guard is charged

Prison Assault
Although prisoners and their advocates say rough treatment by guards of inmates — amounting to criminal assault — is not uncommon, Maine State Prison guard Captain David Cutler, 54, of Appleton, is apparently the only officer at the prison since 2005 to be charged with assaulting an inmate — and only the second in at least 20 years.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  March 07, 2013


Ponte’s prison reforms ramp up

Two Years Later
Several weeks after firing Maine State Prison warden Patricia Barnhart and two years after taking over the Department of Corrections, Commissioner Joseph Ponte appears determined to continue — and ramp up — his forceful program of reform.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  February 06, 2013


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


Occupy takes the lead to energize lawmakers

Aggressive Progressives
"If they keep grinding the common man into the ground, they'll be nothing left of us," said Bob Guethlen, from the wilds of Tomhegan Township on Moosehead Lake.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 16, 2013

Brown, ailing, to return soon

Whistleblower Update  
Prisoner Deane Brown should be back in Maine within two to three weeks, the Maine Department of Corrections notified his attorney on January 4.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  January 09, 2013


A shot at progressive reform

But will the Dems seize the day?
With their sizeable majorities, the Democrats' reconquest of the Maine House and Senate could lead to a rebirth of progressive politics in the state — to reforms in health care, taxes, social services, and other issues.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  December 31, 2012

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


Woodward: ‘Transparency’ best in ‘Colbygate’ scandal

College replies: ‘Nothing more’ to say
Referring mischievously to "Colbygate," legendary Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward told Colby College officials at a November 11 speech at the liberal-arts institution to adopt "transparency" in handling the Bob Diamond scandal. In the 1970s, Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story that brought down President Richard Nixon.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 14, 2012


Servants of the rich

That’s our future — unless we change direction
Jeff Faux's new book, The Servant Economy , doesn't exactly bubble with Hope — that politically abused and worn-out word.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  November 07, 2012


Colby students join Diamond protests

‘What Would Lovejoy Do?’
Protests aimed at ousting disgraced banker Bob Diamond as chairman of Colby College's board of trustees have expanded beyond Occupy Augusta activists to include a sizeable contingent of students at the Waterville liberal-arts college.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  October 24, 2012


Understanding the Colby College protests

Occupy philanthropy!
As the first anniversary of Occupy approached, many journalists wrote its obituary, and some called it a failure.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 26, 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


15 reasons the East-West Highway will never be built (plus a political bonus!)

Analysis: Nails in the coffin
This past spring, out of the blue, Republican Governor Paul LePage and the GOP-controlled Maine Legislature funded a $300,000 study by the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) of the feasibility of a corporate-owned, toll superhighway across the middle of the state.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 06, 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


Banking scandal taints Colby board chairman

Bankster Watch  
Colby College's public problems in recent years have mostly involved lowly students engaged in fighting, drinking, and sex abuse. But now the college has been hit by a big scandal at the very top.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  July 11, 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

Democrats wring their hands

State Convention Watch
Interviewed separately at the Democratic State Convention, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud gave identical responses to the question of what would it take for the Democrats to triumph in November.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  June 06, 2012


Lawmakers mostly stand up against environmental assault

‘Holding the line’
Republican state Senator Thomas Saviello, at one point widely considered a foe of Maine's environment, may have just saved it. At the least, he was a leader in saving a good part of it.
By: LANCE TAPLEY  |  May 23, 2012
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