[HCCN] Solitary Confinement Bill goes forward -- You Got Us Through Committee: Next Mountain the HOUSE FLOOR

Bergin/Garvey bluehillme at roadrunner.com
Thu Mar 11 07:49:23 EST 2010


URGENT ACTION: THE FLOOR FIGHT BEGINS
Support the Nutting/Schatz Report on LD 1611
End Long-Term Solitary Confinement in Maine


Dear Friends,

You have helped us get this far.  No one could have ever predicted that this bill would have made it this far. Last week, the Criminal Justice Committee voted LD 1611 out of committee in a three-way report.  We will be supporting the Nutting/Schatz Report which still contains all of the essential components of the original version of the bill.

If there ever was a time to act in support of this essential piece of prison reform legislation it is today.  We need every single one of you to write/call your Representative and Senator in support of the Nutting/Schatz Report on LD 1611.  See the talking points below to help you draft your comments.  With your help we can increase the safety and security in Maine prisons, as well as our communities, by addressing one of the most psychologically abusive prison practices.  


PLEASE write, call, and email your elected officials in support of the Schatz/Nutting Report of LD 1611 -- An Act to Ensure Humane Treatment for Special Management Unit Prisoners (SMU) at Maine State Prison  (SMU =solitary confinement = SuperMax).  

When you hear back from your representative, please let us know what they have to say: (call 930-5232 or email poscreek at gmail.com)

Take a look at the resources and action items at the end of this email.

Emily Posner
Mainers Against the Abuse of Solitary Confinement
www.maineprisonjustice.org 
_______________________________________

"I was devastated in that cold cell! I had a 2" thick foam covered in dirty blue plastic for a mattress and no pillow on a cement bed. They left me in there for days with no books or nothing to write with.  You don't know what time it is or what day it is.  I lost 22 pounds in 3 weeks. You lose all hope after awhile.  The time went by so slowly and I wanted to die at that point.  I even prayed to God to let me go to sleep and never wake up. I never knew a man could feel so lonely and feel so low in life. . . ." -- Billy L., Prisoner


Listen to MPBN's story  about a hunger strike that took place within the last year in Maine's segregation/solitary confinement units.

Our legislators need to hear your voice, and in a place like Maine, a handful of calls and handwritten letters truly can make a difference.  LD 1611 had a tremendously successful public hearing.  Please listen to MPBN's three news reports to learn more about the hearing and work session:
Work Session Report
Public Hearing REPORT 1 
Public Hearing REPORT 2 

The Schatz/Nutting Report of LD 1611:


  a.. Caps the use of segregation to 45 consecutive days with the exception of certain conditions, which are the following: committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault, an escape from confinement, an act of serious physical violence, or that housing the prisoner in general population would pose an immediate and unacceptable risk to the safety of staff or other prisoners. 
  b.. Bans the placement of mentally ill prisoners in segregation, and requires that prisoners who begin to exhibit mental illness while isolated be removed. 
  c.. Brings an element of due process with fair and meaningful hearings and reviews to this prison practice. 
  d.. Creates a more safe and secure prison 
  e.. Returns inmates to our community that have not been exposed to the long-term and sometimes permanent psychological impacts of segregation. This increases safety for the community.
"Solitary confinement is more than a punishment, it is torture. We are being left in these cells not to be taught a lesson but to be taunted, pushed over the edge, to be psychologically and spiritually broken down and for some of us to lose our integrity, our dignity, and our minds. . . ." -- Jacob M., Prisoner

CAN YOU DO MORE:

  1.. Forward this email to 10-20 of your friends 
  2.. Post this info on your facebook page 
  3.. Come to Augusta to Citizen Lobby (we need you in the Halls) 
  4.. Write a Letter-to-the-Editor 
  5.. Sign Petition at www.endsolitary.org 
  6.. Hang a Flyer in Your Town  (call 930-5232 or email poscreek at gmail.com and we'll send a flyer)
Dozens of Maine human rights advocates have been working very thoughtfully on this bill to ensure safety and humane conditions for prison staff and prisoners, as well as our communities.  We know many prisoners who are in solitary confinement or have been -- sometimes for weeks and months -- in the isolated SuperMax units of Maine State Prison. There is presently no outside oversight to abuse and arbitrary lengths of time in this out-of-sight solitary
confinement building.  Thus, there is little hope for change for the 100+ people housed in the SMU, including the mentally ill who make up the largest numbers. (If you would like to read these prisoners' stories, please ask us to send excerpts or read:
http://thephoenix.com/Portland/news/97371-screams-from-solitary/ )

"I went through POW training when I was eighteen.  It's the only way I made it through the SMU over the past year. . . .While I was in they
were making me scrub floors and showers on my hands and knees calling me n----- and other demeaning language. . . . When I went in they
broke six of my ribs and bruised my left hip. They didn't take pictures of me till I was in three months.  I have no way to prove injury as the nurses won't testify. I tried. . . ." -- Ed G., Prisoner


Prisoners have been found guilty of crimes and received sentences.  They are required to "do their time"; not to receive ongoing unsupervised punishment, which many experts call torture.  The present circumstances at the SMU -- for which we all bear the blame -- have created the "dark holes" in Maine's prison system.   It's time to shine a light and establish rules and recourse.



Please Forward Widely



Read More About Maine and Solitary Confinement.



Hell Hole  by Atul Gawande

http://www.stanmoody.com/ItemDetail_180_508_Prison_Myth_Number_Five.aspx
by Rev. Stan Moody

http://thephoenix.com/Portland/news/97371-screams-from-solitary/ by
Lance Tapley, Portland Phoenix

http://thecrimereport.org/2010/02/17/locking-down-the-mentally-ill/

To contact your elected official:
http://www.Maine.gov/legis/house/townlist.htm






 
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