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12-02-2007, 06:19 AM
Little State, Big Problems: Maine's Prison Crisis Continues Unabated
by Lance Tapley

Maine is the little (1.3-million people), lily-white (the least diverse state in the nation), liberal (it went overwhelmingly for Kerry in 2004) Vacationland squeezed up into Canada at the top of the Northeast. It has one of the lowest crime rates and the rock-bottom-lowest incarceration rate in the country.

But Maine's Department of Corrections has presided over extensive prisoner abuse and neglect that it has worked hard to hide.

I began reporting about Maine's prisons in November 2005, when Torture in Maine?s Prison, an exposť of the brutality in the Maine State Prison?s Special Management (Supermax) Unit, appeared in the Portland Phoenix, an alternative newsweekly. In two subsequent articles, I detailed the fallout from the torture article, the state's promises of reform, and the inadequacy of reform efforts. These three stories were reprinted in PLN in June 2006.