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A new district attorney is changing the way crimes are prosecuted in the Midcoast. First term District Attorney Natasha Irving campaigned on a restorative justice platform in 2018. This month, she began implementing that progressive form of justice. The concept dates as far back as Native Americans, but is relatively new in criminal prosecution. In her campaign, Irving promised to seek restorative justice in all but the most violent crimes.

Restorative justice applies law through repairing harm the criminal behavior caused; and victims participate in cases’ resolution. In bringing the restorative justice philosophy to Maine Prosecutorial District No. 6 (Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties), Irving’s goal was to spend less time on non-violent offenders and more on violent offenses such as domestic and sexual abuse.

Shoplifting is an example of how Irving’s application of restorative justice works. A defendant charged with shoplifting may have to pay restitution, perform community service and possibly complete high school or receive a GED (general education diploma). In restorative justice, the victim may be the community or a person. The defendant is held accountable in a way that makes the victim whole, and will likely prevent recidivism, according to Irving and restorativejustice.org

“The restorative justice model has a more satisfying result for everyone,” Irving said. “In the shoplifting resolution, 100% restitution is paid which is not always the case in the traditional system which involves a jail time, fine or restitution. In many cases, 10 years later, restitution hasn’t been paid. What we want is more power in the victims’ hands.”

Irving also believes jail time isn’t a good resolution for the defendant or community. As a lawyer in Waldoboro, she defended clients throughout the Midcoast. Often times, her clients would become repeat offenders or enter into a new class of crimes. “I’d watch it happen over and over. A client would go to jail and come out a better criminal. All jail time did was make them a better forger, make contact with a new drug dealer or learn how to hide urine tests,” Irving said.

As DA, she points out there is another benefit restorative justice provides the public. It allows her office and law enforcement more time to investigate domestic violence and sexual assault cases. Irving said statistics show nearly two out of three domestic violent or sexual abuse cases fail because the victim decides against cooperating. Irving wants law enforcement to spend more time investigating violent crimes to build more solid cases if a victim ultimately decides not to cooperate.

Irving believes these crimes need more attention because they often result in more violent crimes. She described a generation of kids growing up in toxic households with sexual abuse, having a detrimental impact on their present and future lives. “Domestic violence is the No. 1 evil in our community today. Children live through these problems and commit crimes as adults from growing up in this hell. My belief is looking at community treatment for drug cases and building stronger cases for domestic violence and doing more to hold people accountable for domestic and sexual assault.”

Irving was also drawn to restorative justice by witnessing a community-based program in Waldo County. Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast was formed in 2005. It provides restorative conferences for adults and juveniles offenders. The project’s focus is on offender accountability coupled with how an offense affects the lives of victims and the community. The project has a firm base in Waldo County and an emerging one in Lincoln, Knox and Sagadahoc. Her first year as DA has been about implementing restorative justice in the four county offices and throughout the Midcoast law enforcement agencies. In year two, Irving is looking toward expanding her programs.

“There has been a lot of reform and updating policies. We’ve made tremendous strides in putting fewer people in jail for drug offenses. This year will be more of a transitional year,” she said. “The focus is reallocating time focusing on prosecuting criminal violence. All I can say is there is still more to do.”

As DA, Irving wants to put less emphasis on prosecuting underage smoking and drinking. Her policy is only to prosecute cases which endanger public health. As a teenager, she remembered law enforcement showing up and breaking up teen drinking parties and informing parents. She sees this as better than arresting youths for poor judgement.

“Only in the most exceptional cases where a teen gets behind the wheel impaired will a prosecution takes place. Charging a large group of teens doesn’t make sense especially if a problem occurs. We want them to call for help without fearing being arrested,” she said.

In November 2018, Irving’s victory was a bit of an upset. District Attorney Jonathan Liberman was appointed by Gov. LePage in 2016 to fill an unexpired term. Republican Geoffrey Rushlau had served almost six terms before becoming a district court judge. Irving became the first woman Midcoast DA and the fourth statewide. As a Democrat, she also broke the GOP’s hold on the position. Despite being a progressive Democrat, Irving has received criticism on a recent arrest of an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainee. A news report of the arrest of Adekunle O. Adeyanju was placed on Irving’s DA Facebook page. The post received criticism based on the defendant’s race, and Irving’s former campaign manager removed it, according to Irving. But Irving ignored the criticism and requested to re-post it.

“This guy is a person of color and I’m a supporter of equal rights and understand our state’s and nation’s history,” she said. “But I wanted to re-post it because since its been up there more women have come forward. The defendant just happens to be a person of color and this is a very serious crime.”

Earlier in her term, her position on drunk driving brought criticism from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving president. Irving proposed a policy change for deferred dispositions for first-time operating under the influence. Part of Irving’s proposal was requiring an intoxilock device. “I think it was more of a misunderstanding what I was trying for was more public safety not less,” she said. “Only the Secretary of State can require use of an intoxilock. So it’s really out of the hands of a DA. I was just hoping for some common sense legislation.”

As her term approaches its midpoint this year, Irving is trying convince all four county commissioner boards to fund a grant writer. She said the U.S. Department of Justice has numerous grant opportunities which could expand public safety programs and expand growing restorative justice resources in the district.

For information on hot topics in incarcerations and recovery, please visit

Voices from the Other Side.

Voices from the Other Side

Thank you!

Isaac
host/ producer

 

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Maine Correctional Center is more dysfunction functional then a quadriplegic’s body, and almost as useless. Recently M.C.C. went through accreditation audit, The result aren’t in yet but I’m sure they will pass. Whats fucked up about it is the “leadership” here at M.C.C. was so worried about dust, dirt, and waxed flours that he missed the fact there are bricks with missing mortar and sever cracks lining the top of Dorm 6. Now if that wasn’t noticed by the so-called inspectors they must have has Stevie fucking wonder doing the inspections.

The “Leadership” at M.C.C. have had three long years to get this facility into shape, all the painting, waxing, cleaning, and half-ass repairing was all attempted at the eleventh hour. Inmates had their Rec. cancelled and were forced to strip and wax floors without enough improper tools and materials to do the job adequately. Some inmates stayed up all night trying to complete tasks that were ordered at 11:00 p.m. the night before inspection and in the process keeping other inmates awake by being loud and running equipment. (Great Idea By The Way)

Who in the hell would keep administrators in their positions who cannot do an adequate job. I think the MDOC needs a super douching of staff before anything else. Mr. Commissioner should start cleaning house, starting at the top (himself), and work his way down. Corrupt leadership and lazy assistants is a great way to piss away money, and get your privatization agenda completed and that Mr. Commissioner is a Big Fucking Mistake!!

Bob Wire

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That’s the thing about suicide. Try as you might to remember how a person lived his life, you always end up thinking about how he ended it.”

– Anderson Cooper


Ten years and a month ago, give or take a few days, I graduated, with little fanfare (a poinsettia and a chocolate orange) from Justice Nancy Mills’ Kennebec County Co-Occurring Disorders Court. We called it C.O.D.C. But that’s a prequel which, at the moment, exists only in outline, Bodhisattva.

Ten years and a month ago, give or take a few more days, I got arrested. Oh, yes! But then, isn’t that how most of my best adventures end?

In this case, after graduating this strict alternative-to-sentencing court program, after nearly two years of participation with ever-clean urine tests and breathalyzers, no legal trouble, and without Nancy finding out about my twenty year old live in girl friend, I graduated, and days later, I started drinking. At night, of course. One night, I got into a fight with aforementioned girlfriend and we got a bit loud (she threw me down the stairs, hit me over the head with a guitar, bit my arm when I tried to restrain her.) Our fat, expatriate British neighbor, (was the fucker’s name “Ted?”) banged on the door (after calling the cops) and the girlfriend opens it, ends up scurrying next door to his apartment. And I was, well, drunk, so when the fat fuck told me to “GO TO YOUR APARTMENT!” I did. And the fuzz showed up, during this major snowstorm / shitstorm. Six deep.

Now, I may have been drunk, but I’d been through this before. I wasn’t gonna say shit, although I apparently did agree with one of the cops when he called me “Kristopher.” But then, it was one of my names, just not a legal one.

I never imagined that my girlfriend at the time would throw me under the bus. She did. It was like a twist of an ending.. the person you least expected is the one to bring the hero down. Off I went, at the request of my Rhode scholar probation officer, Mark Fortin, down to Kennebec County Correctional Facility (it was probably the same person who named the jail a correctional facility as the one who named a small, local college the “University” of Augusta. Sorry.)

I sat in holding and I remember thinking, this is it. I’m done. The president of the Holistic Recovery Project, drunk, and I was informed, in jail on a domestic!

That whore!

Ah, I thought. I’m screwed. Windham Prison bound.

But I wasn’t, of course. Soldiers of the nation came in droves; some put money on the phone for me; Don Anton from Krypton generously put money on my books. And after repeatedly threatening suicide, one of my best friends ended up in the holding cell beside me, co-founder of the Project, Arthur Brian Traweek. Truedogg.

 

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~

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” 
― Nietzsche

~

Truedogg was a street survivor with borderline personality disorder, and he played the court team like a game of “Go Fish,” his favorite card game. He had graduated a year before me and, never wanting to graduate in the first place, he had re-offended. He had a six months sentence for allegedly robbing some watches from a friend. Apparently, he’d been screaming suicide since arriving at the jail.

When they finally put me in a cell block, they put Truedogg with me. Karen, the porcine mental health worker at the jail told me: “We’re gonna put him with you. That way, I know he’ll be okay.” He wasn’t; none of us were. We were put into one of the classrooms which I later found was filthy with sex offenders; it wasn’t your stereotypical cell block. This was more like a barracks – a classroom with one bathroom and shower filled with bunk beds. And skinners and peeps who threatened suicide; it was easier to watch everyone in a barracks style operation, and it’s true – it they are actually watching.

My cousin Glen “Hawkeye” Bartlett ended up there too, and he and Truedogg and I passed the time, of course, playing cards. Or pantsing other convicts. Tired of constantly playing the prison favorite, “spades,” out of boredom and desperation we began to play other card games, games from childhood like “Crazy Eights,” “Concentration,” “Old Maid,” and “Go Fish.” Truedogg’s favorite game, I think I wrote a moment ago, was “Go Fish.”

Truedogg was depressed, or playing depressed and we couldn’t figure out why, I mean, he was doing six months, he’d be out in two, and being the Court favorite, he was going to be allowed back into the court program that he loved, or pretended to love, so much. We had the same lawyer, the mighty N. Seth Levy, and we had the same spiritual leader, also a member of the court team, soberati and zen-master, Peter Wohl. Seth of course visited both of us. Other members of the court team, only visited the Dogg. I wouldn’t’ find out why for years.

Peter later told me that Justice Mills (whom my probation officer Mark Fortin has assured me was quite pissed at me) had ordered the court team not to visit me.

Truedogg’s girlfriend Whitney (who he’d met in a Crisis unit, of course,) was visiting him regularly as well; sometimes we’d both go down and see her at the same time, if Truedogg needed support. Truedogg was in the pokey, I don’t know if I’ve told you, for stealing from a friend of his, a doctor whom he’d met one time in county. The dogg had apparently stolen some watches; there was an article about the crime in the paper, but our lawyer, Seth didn’t want him looking at it. So, of course, Whitney mailed a copy to him anyway. It disturbed him.

In the article, the victim had claimed that, not only did Truedogg steal from him, but he also tried to hang him, something which the dog denied. I didn’t know what to believe, but the Dogg was my friend, and making light of the situation, Whitney and I started calling him, “Hangman.”

Foreshadowing.

Now, soon to rejoin the court program that he loved, the Dogg was required to go before Justice Mills on Mondays again, this time in chains. One Monday, he returned from court more down than usual. Justice Mills had asked him how he was doing, and the Dogg replied that he hated himself. And I forget what the answer was that she gave him, but it wasn’t very nice. As I remember it, he was a bit teared up as we talked about it, over jailhouse decaf coffee. We’d had many talks since coming together in jail about God and Hell and sin and courts and love. I remember him asking me once if I thought that suicides go straight to Hell, and I told him that I didn’t understand God, but I was quite sure that he wasn’t so black and white.

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I told him about my friends who’d successfully faked hangings.

That day, we talked about Court and how bad he felt for disappointing Justice Mills. I remember reassuring him, and praying with him. He said that he was gonna take a shower and I believe I told him that God loved him and so did I. Then, I sat down to watch “Law and Order” which happened every afternoon at 2pm. Truedogg wedged a streamer of toilet paper in the door-jam, something I hadn’t seen him do before, but I assumed that it was just to let people know that he was in there. So people let him be; a guard, Guererra, I believe, checked the bathroom during his hourly checks. He overlooked what I would see.

Not long after, someone screamed. Bobby had gone into the bathroom to use the toilet, and now he was screaming and then another convict went in and then I heard Father Matthew bellow and then I went in and the Dogg was in the shower, fully clothed, hanging from a sheet he’d wrapped around the shower gear.

Hangman.

We took him down, me and this other kid, and pulled him out into the common area while someone else hit the button to alert the turnkeys.

The cops came running quickly (including Guererra, who’d pretended, apparently, to check the bathroom earlier.) The convicts were all ordered to stay on our cots. The cops started chest compressions, but I noticed they weren’t doing rescue breaths. Later, maybe eleven minutes later, the prison doc shows up with a breath bag. No one had given Truedogg a rescue breath because they no one had the 75 cent plastic “seperater” which prevented lips from touching. I guess it was procedure – no separator, no rescue breaths. The sheriff himself came up as they worked on the dog, but, I mean, damn, when I pulled him out of the shower and lay him on the floor he was so cold, and his skin was already so pale.

Why didn’t I start doing rescue breathing on the Dogg?

Why didn’t I offer to? And I don’t know and I’ve thought about that forever.

They moved us all down to the library while they did their thing at the crime scene. I don’t remember much, except that it was cold, and we were left alone, and I remember freaking out on some kid because he’d remarked that all suicides go to Baptist Hell.

A young guard popped in at some point and casually told us that Truedogg was dead. A while later and some quacks connected with Crisis and Counseling and ergo the Court Team came in and tried to council us for ten minutes. Then they left and we were lead back to the classroom.

I don’t remember what I felt; I remember Father Matthew reading to me from Sirach.. thank you, Father. One thing I did do was to write down what had happened, and to have all of the convicts sign it. ( You can find a copy of the letter at:

http://holisticrecoveryproject.org/truedogg.htm)

My cousin had been gone at the time of the self-crime and had a meltdown when he found out what had occurred. I’m trying to encourage him to write something about the Dogg, but hell, man, this guy took over what had been the Dogg’s bunk and freaked out whenever a guard tried to reassign him. I think that one of the mental health workers got fired over some sort of confrontation with Hawk about the Dogg.

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What’s wrong, Bob? Not enough twang in it for you?”

– Truedogg, on a negative comment concerning house music by Bob Fortin

~

Arthur Brian “Truedogg” Traweek and I met while in C.O.D.C. We also both had rooms at the same rooming house, but it took a while for us to warm up to each other. He seemed unfriendly, even kind of shady.

He wasn’t. I’m not sure exactly how or when it happened, but we became close friends at some point. Every evening at around seven, Truedogg would come up to my room to discuss Christianity or the courts or the various programs we were mandated to attend. Truedogg admitted to me quite early that he suffered from borderline personality disorder, and that everything he was he’d learned by watching others. Watching.

Brian had a bad childhood. Bad. Abuse. He ended up in an orphanage, where other kids called him “Gomez.” He was a racketeer though, even then, and sold other orphans contraband which he kept in behind a broken panel in the wall. At some point he became a runner; he chose the name “Wanderer” for himself; we started calling him Truedogg after hearing a song of the same name by Toby Mac. But, he was a wanderer. He got in trouble with the law, ans somehow ended up at a christian halfway house down south, “Love-Action Ministry” run by Miss Polly. Raised a Catholic, it was here that he became a Catholic hating extremist of a Protestant. It was also here that he was introduced to Miss Polly’s “Twelve Steps to Wholeness.” (“Wholeness,” the Dogg explained, “Comes from the word ‘Holiness’.”) a christian twelve step format.

Brian was released at some point from Miss Polly’s, although knowing him, I’m pretty sure that he didn’t want to go. Once back up north, he actually did his best to get arrested. He would go into Hotels (the same ones where he slept, in the boiler rooms) steal a checkbook and then head to the bank to try to get caught cashing it. It took quite a long time, and of course, Brian gave most of the money away. It was while in Cumberland county jail that he would become good friends with his final victim.

Eventually, Truedogg made it up to Kennebec County and C.O.D.C. And he was able to play them like a game of crazy eights, but then, that’s how he was made. He did a classic BPD game of being distant for a bit, then having a great “breakthrough” of opening up to the very person or persons he’d previously been so distant from. Justice Mills bought right into it, as did Zen-master Peter Wohl and the rest of the team. He convinced them (and maybe himself, although he was so good, it was impossible to tell) that he considered them his family, that he loved coming to court and never wanted to leave.

Awww…

By the time we became good friends, Truedogg had secured a job as a peer support specialist at the state mental hospital. He wouldn’t drink any coffee but Starbucks, smoked basic lights, and once explained to me how to scrub your shoes clean. He loved house music and could go on and on about it – Chicago Swing, Boston Beat, Japtronic, etc. He and one of his brothers (a hip-hop DJ) went to a house party in Philly or Boston, and ended up getting chased out by some brothers who’d gotten viscous, the Dogg said, because they were listening to something like, “Jungle House” or something. Whatever it was he claimed that they were quite violent. The Dogg also introduced me to Christian House music, while spinning about in his car, the mini Jamaican flag hanging from the rear view.

Now, don’t think that the dogg was a saint, because he wasn’t, and his troubles usually involved women.

The “Jen” situation, the “Belinda” situation. Holy, Dogg! But despite his quirks, admittedly due to the abuse he’d suffered as a child, ( back when his friends called him “Nipsy,”) he always brought a good message to our nighttime dharma talks. For the sake of brevity I’ll stick to the wisdom he added to the Project.

~

Step 13: Love was there all along. We realized that we had a spiritual relationship even when we didn’t know it. We’ve always been worthy.” – Recovery through Wholeness

~

When I started C.O.D.C. There was an A.A. Meeting held at Crisis and Counseling, the courts puppet mental health facility. When they moved locations, another member of the program, Jamie, wanted to start an A.A. Meeting in the vacated space. Jamie dropped out, but Truedogg picked up his slack. It was Truedogg who’d first introduced me to duel recovery anonymous, a 12-step program which focuses on both a persons addiction and their mental illness, and I was soon running two D.R.A. Groups a week. At first, we decided to make (coordinating with Mark “the worm-man” Rosenberg) it a D.R.A. Meeting, until one day the Dogg (who didn’t trust the worm-man) suggested: “Why not make it all-recovery?” We received permission to start our own twelve step group from Justice Mills, and thanks to the Dogg it was to become Maine’s first all-recovery program. I wrote most of the material on the floor of my room at the rooming house, working some stuff the Dogg had written into something a little more secular/humanistic. We used Miss Polly’s twelve steps to Wholeness at our first group (Circle) and then, again, came up with our own on the floor of my boarding house room.

All that we knew, really, was A.A., and like N.A. We were coming really close to Bill W’s twelve steps, with a word substituted here or there. I wanted us to be different, to have our own, unique twelve steps. To this end, it was the Dogg who came up with the term “Spiritual Relationship” instead of the hackneyed “higher power,” “reconciliation” instead of “amends,” and “parameters” instead of “traditions.” Our version of the steps went from the banal (Step One: “We realized that things were fucked up.” ) to the sacred: we had a thirteenth step. This too, I’d come up with on the floor of the room, but I got it from a conversation between Truedogg and one of my ex’s. She was talking about a girl in the court program in a very denigrating way and they got into it about “worthiness.” I remember the Dogg saying: “She’s worthy. We are ALL worthy. Because we’re born we’re worthy.” This has become one of the most important tenets of the Project and our step thirteen: “..we have always been worthy.” or as I paraphrase it to peeps: “You’ve always been worthy. And anyone who’s ever told you differently is a liar.” And it’s from the Dogg.

Eventually, the Dogg got into a relationship with a woman, and he was terrified about the possibility of sex, due to his abuse. We talked him through it, but, alas, the woman, after using him for his money, dumped him, and it killed him. Soon after he lost his job, went to stay with his friend from Cumberland County, stole his watches, maybe tried to hang him. I don’t know.

But Truedogg’s dead.

~

Where there is a corpse, the vultures will gather.” – Jesus Christ

~

I was told by various people that Justice Mills was pissed at me. I’d never made a connection with her; it was hard for me, developing a rapport with her so far away and so high up. It was like going to see the king. Furthermore, despite the fact that I was a major success in the program, I knew that Nancy didn’t much care for me, and someone on the team, Peter told me, had been keeping me from graduating the program. I went in front of the bench one day after I’d given the team a letter listing my accomplishments and asking why I hadn’t graduated. Justice Mills told me that I was arrogant and needed to learn some humility. It was then that I realized that, no matter what I did, how I dressed, how far I climbed, Nancy and the rest of the team would never think of me as any more than a common thug.

Really?

I know that Peter presided over a zen funeral for Truedogg. I wasn’t there. The week previous it looked as though I’d be bailed out. We’d gone to court to get bail set and as luck would have it, my ex came and admitted her part in the whole thing. Bail was set a $1500, which my peeps could do. Then, mysteriously, I was told that it wasn’t a lump sum, it was

$1500 per each of my two charges, and my peeps couldn’t afford $3000. Whatever happened, the team successfully kept me away from the funeral.

There was a candle light vigil, but no action. We got to watch this crowd outside drinking real coffee and smoking cigarettes and none of them had come to see the dogg when he was alive. No action was taken against the jail; I believe Guererra was transferred as fast as a child molesting priest back in the 70s.

~

You know me, from back in school, I’m White Rose, I’ma kill you. Razor blades, queen of spades,hangman’s noose from Robin Rage…”

– Robin Raged, “I’ma kill You.”

~

It is insanely difficult to write this.

When I got out, I was crazy with survivors guilt. I was seeing Truedogg in crowds in the light of day, dreaming of the ordeal at night. And the thing about suicide is that no one really wants to talk about it. And no one did. So, neither did I. The death of the dogg did something to me and it was bad to the point where, when I returned to jail en route to prison back in ’09, I was relieved.

I still haven’t’ fully processed the Dogg’s death. The closest I ever got was a song that I wrote for him while at Windham Prison, “the Executioners Song.” Perhaps I’ll play it for you in the next. No, I just carried whatever it caused with me, and sought out distractions from it and the way I felt, ghosts and everything. My last year in the ghetto, I knew more people, personally, who died from opiate addiction then I should even talk about, but, my friend, I haven’t shed a tear for them, or anyone since the dogg.

Yes, of course I’ll see someone abut this. I will. Swear.

I met with his family once, and for a while kept in touch with the Dogg’s brother, Daniel, and I’ve spoken with the Dogg’s son Justin about it. Once.

Okay, I’m just starting to spit out nonsense now, so I’m gonna close.. I just want y’all to remember my brother TrueDogg, okay.

I’ve asked my cousin Hawk to write something, but I’m sure he’s as fucked in the head about the whole thing as I am, we’ll see.

More next time, swear.

I love you all, okay, so, be safe, please.

Love and love and love and love,

Papa Rage

Truedogg, I miss you, man.

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Kenneth McDonald

I met Kenny McDonald while in Kennebec County for a probation violation (drinking).  Kenny was a sweet guy, child-like in many ways.  We were cellmates for a while and despite a head injury that always allowed me a bottom bunk, I took the top; Kenny had trouble getting up there.  I shared food with him, games of brick-house.

Kenny stabbed his 80 year old mother to death in 2009.  I assumed they’d send him to the State mental hospital, but you know how the insanity defense rides here in the union.

Kenny got sentenced to 30 years.


download (7)I met Micheal ‘Dirty’ McQuade when, after my first trip to Windham Prison, my dear sister placed me in the cheapest, grottiest rooming house in town at the time, Larry “Slum Lord” Fleury’s Edward’s House.  Real sweet guy when I knew him back in ’06, intelligent fellow who seemed to have a big heart.  I lost touch with him when I went back to jail later on that year (probation violation: drinking,) and only heard about his descent into darkness after moving into ‘the Vatikan,’ in the ghetto of East Bayside P-town.

Dirty was addicted to heroin and he and a couple of other fellows decided that the best way to get more heroin was by robbing another addict of his heroin.  The man ended up getting murdered during the caper; Dirty gave evidence against the fellow that supposedly did the actual killing.

Dirty received 12 years.  


download (13).jpgI met Michael ‘Madman’ Pedini at the same time, and in the same cell-block as I met Kenny (as well as Danny Fortune.)  Madman, an enforcer for the Outlaws motorcycle gang killed a member of the rival Hell’s Angels.  He never wrote for the blog.

Pedini did five years and then entered the witness protection program.


arline-lawless-2.jpgI’ve never met Arline Lawless in person, although she’s been trading letters with the Project for a few years now.  Arline (who came from “Beans of Egypt Maine” surroundings murdered her boyfriend, a working fisherman, with a gun, apparently when he told her of his intention of breaking up with her.

Arline was sentenced to thirty-five years.


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Finally, I met Daniel ‘Prince’ Fortune at the same time and in the same cell-block as Kenny and Pedini.  Daniel was a good kid; the first time I’d bumped into him we were all going to court and I was cuffed to him.  Danny told the cop to cuff me to someone else and then explained to me, “there are gonna be cameras out there and you don’t want to be on television next to me.”

Danny was a former sports star (Gardiner Highschool), born in Haiti, adopted into white central Maine.  He suffered a traumatic brain injury in an automobile accident and after that, things got darker.  Drugs.  Danny had stolen a safe from a former State Senator’s home; he’d partied there a lot with the Senator’s son.  The son ended up owing Danny’s foster brother Leo some money for drugs and one night they went to collect.  As it turned out, the son wasn’t home. While Danny waited outside (he was already jammed up due to the safe robbery) Leo ended up attacking the Senator and his young daughter with a machete.

After the pair were arrested, Danny kept quiet.  Leo, sang like addicts usually sing in such situations, blaming Danny to a large degree; he later recanted and took full responsibility for the vicious attack.

Leo got fifty years.  Danny got two concurrent life sentences.


 

“The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low.
But the Gospels actually taught this:
Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected. So it goes.”

– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

Get it?

Robin Rage

 

Recently M.C.C. went through an accreditation process by something called the A.C.A. I have not idea what the hell this A.C.A. name means or what the hell they actually do. What I witnessed the heard from A.C.A. doing was roaming the range of M.C.C. They were looking at this, touching that. They were laughing giggling and having a grand ole’ time. I wonder if they were accreditation or not? For all I know they could have been from Dow Chemical and they were checking to see if we used enough of their chemicals in our paint, stripper, and wax? Because from where I lay. That is all I saw going on around here in the two prior days to the visit. It was: paint, strip, and wax, and strip, wax, and paint, and also waxing, painting, and stripping for two whole days!!! The accreditation people did not seem to care about; shower curtains held in place by shoestrings, or shower heads that spray water everywhere. They didn’t seem to care about sinks that leak, or sinks with broken faucets. Did they care about toilets that don’t flush right, or living quarters (Dorm 5 & 6) with no mechanical ventilation? Did they or do they care about heavy metal framed windows that open in and place sharp corners eye & head high, just begging for injury? Did they or do they care about the quality of food, or medical care we get? Dig this: The kitchen could not bake bread for 3 days, because officials here did not want the A.C.A. folks to see flour everywhere. The whole thing was a fucking show of appearances. It was a fucking Brazilian paint and wax job. No Bikini line here at M.C.C. All the painting was nice, but as tradition would have it, it is being peeled away as I write. In another posting I raised the question as to whether accreditation would help the inmates? The answer is a Resounding NO! Accreditation is nothing more than the vehicle to have M.C.C. administrators play “Pat Back” – “ Shake Hand” with bunch of people from some other god – damned agency who’s only job was to walk around and look at the compound through paint & wax colored (flour free) glasses… NOTHING MORE

NOTHING LESS

Bob Wire

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For information on hot topics in incarcerations and recovery, please visit

Voices from the Other Side.

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Isaac
host/ producer

 

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For information on hot topics in incarcerations and recovery, please visit

Voices from the Other Side.

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A 32-member task force is soliciting feedback in its effort to recommend changes, which could include shutting down state’s only youth prison, to how Maine treats youthful offenders.

Long Creek Youth Development Center, in a Nov. 16, 2016 file photo.

Long Creek Youth Development Center, in a Nov. 16, 2016 file photo. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

AUGUSTA — With no family at home, Brodie Dunton was an alcoholic by the time he was 14 years old and spent his teenage years in and out of minor trouble with the law.

He also found himself in and out various youth treatment programs, and then committed to Long Creek Youth Development Center on a misdemeanor theft charge.

“I ended up doing 26 months at Long Creek,” Dunton told a crowd Thursday at a Maine Juvenile Justice Task Force forum in Augusta. “They had me sitting there, doing nothing. I sat there until discharge.”

He was among a group of young adults at the forum who also spoke about their time incarcerated as children at Long Creek. The event also included representatives of the Maine Department of Corrections, police officers, legislators and other state and local government officials.

Colin O’Neill, associate commissioner of juvenile services at the Department of Corrections, who has also overseen operations at Long Creek, responded to Dunton that to be fair, it should be noted he would have gone home almost immediately, but he had no home. Nor, apparently, was there any other place for Dunton to go.

After the forum ended and the roughly 60 attendees were making their way out of Augusta City Center, Dunton summed up what attendees seemed to agree was a key problem with the juvenile justice system: “Why didn’t he have a place for me to go? That’s the thing.”

The forum was the third one in the state, with another set for next month in Portland, according to Mark Soler, executive director of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based juvenile justice policy group hired by state corrections officials to evaluate Maine’s juvenile justice system.

The goal: Delivering recommendations that could lead to reform and assist a 32-member task force of legislators, state officials, members of law enforcement and advocates charged with recommending reforms in how Maine treats youthful offenders.

The look at problems of the Maine juvenile justice system and ways to improve it includes considering closing or repurposing Long Creek Youth Development Center, the state’s only youth prison.

Advocates said imprisoning youth does not work and is often harmful to the juveniles it claims to help, while the money, about $15 million a year, spent at Long Creek would be better spent on community-based programs for youths.

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey warned that Maine needs somewhere to place youths who commit violent crimes to ensure the public’s safety.

“We know locking up juveniles is not the best for them, but is sometimes necessary,” Massey said. “I have some concerns if we’re going to close Long Creek. For those juveniles who are violent, we need a facility that has the security levels to prevent them from walking away and exposing the community to violence.”

Soler said he does not necessarily see Maine doing away with a secure holding facility for youth. He said that if more could be diverted to community-based programs — and the many youth at Long Creek who need mental health treatment, which the facility is not equipped to provide, are placed in treatment programs — Maine would have no need for a facility as large as Long Creek. In the past, the facility has had more than 300 youths in residence.

“If you could take the number (at Long Creek) down to who really needs to be confined, you’d have maybe 20, and it could be a much smaller facility,” Soler said. “Nobody is talking about opening the doors and letting the kids walk out.”

O’Neill said Long Creek now has about 55 youths, 35 of whom were sent there by judges after they committed crimes and 20 who are incarcerated temporarily because they stand accused of criminal behavior and await court proceedings.

He said Long Creek’s field staff, the equivalent of probation officers for youths, process about 2,000 referrals a year, and now oversee between 300 and 350 youths on probation.

O’Neill and Randall Liberty, commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections, said Maine officials have worked to divert an increasing number of youth from entering the correctional system.

O’Neill said about a third of the youth who end up at Long Creek are high-risk offenders accused or convicted of serious crimes, a third are lower-risk offenders involved in lesser crimes and a third are there due to behavioral or mental health issues.

Mike Prue, 28, of Biddeford, said there were more than 200 youths at Long Creek when he was there as a juvenile. In his experience, he said, youths sent there to be rehabilitated so they could become successful adults often experienced the opposite result.

“The way it stands is people (sent to Long Creek) find themselves worse off coming out than when they went in,” Prue said. “You treat them like they’re in adult prisons when they walk in, in shackles.

“As a kid that tried to ask for help, if I made the smallest mistake, they’d slap me back in there. And when you get out, where do you go? So they go back to the same lifestyle. You’re pretty much setting them up to fail.”

Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, a co-chair of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said forming the task force and working to reform the juvenile justice system shows state officials are committed to improvements.

“We know the data shows locking kids up is not good for anyone,” she said.

Soler and State Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland, a co-chairman of the task force with Liberty and Jill Ward from the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law, said they hope to propose reforms that will be considered by the next state Legislature.

A survey, asking people about their experiences in the juvenile justice system, will be part of what they consider in making recommendations, and is available at www.mainejjtaskforce.org.

Al Cleveland, 22, of Portland, is campaign coordinator for Maine Youth Justice, a nonpartisan group which advocates for ending youth incarceration in Maine. He said the group issued a report with eight recommendations for reforms to Maine’s juvenile justice system, including:

• Investing in communities and reimagining the role of police.

• Investing in credible messengers.

• Shutting down what they call the school-to-prison pipeline.

• Funding programs that divert youth from arrest, prosecution and incarceration.

• Creating a new model for small, community-based residential programs.

• Taking the responsibility for youth justice and community reinvestment out of the Maine Department of Corrections.

• Repurposing Long Creek.

Adan Abdikadir, 20, of Lewiston, who attended the forum with others from Maine Youth Justice, said many of the problems the forum sought to address result from youths not having positive role models in their lives.

“We need to worry about what’s happening in these kids’ homes, not having enough people to look up to,” he said, likening youths to flowers that need help to grow.

“We’re always questioning, ‘What’s wrong with this kid?’ Maybe it’s how they’re being flowered. Maybe the water is dirty, the community is dirty. It’s not just the flower itself. For it to pop, you need to put some water in.”

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