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Hey, what’s popping?

I’ve been working on not focusing so much on the end result of things.  I bounce from one thing to another.  It’s like I don’t feel like I”m doing anything unless I’ striving for something, and then as soon as I get it or accomplish something, I’m on to the next.  I don’t even savor the accomplishment.  I really need to work on that.  Word.  Conditional reality.  That’s what I’m struggling with right now.  I need that happy core.

The falling down and getting back up is what life’s all about.  The day we stop getting back up  is when we really have problems.  I’ve learned that failure is when you give up.  It’s o.k. to make mistakes and fall down, but when we accept that and stop trying, that’s when we’ve failed.  So keep getting back up, everyone.

I can’t believe that this is the reason I self-sabotage so much.  I’m working on this, realizing this is the first step towards fixing it.  I don’t know why I hate myself; I think it’s some childhood shit.  I want you guys to know that I”m working hard to get better and be better so that when I come home I’m in the best possible space.

I’m trying to give all my problems to Allah, it’s hard though, because I’m such a control freak.  I know that He can handle everything better than I ever could so I need to start trusting in Him.  That is not stupid at all; everything is on loan to me from God, you know.  As for purpose, I am just starting to realize what my purpose isn’t.

Just know that I’m doing okay.

As I am,

Prince

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Write to Prince via:

Maine State Prison = Daniel Fortune – MDOC #86753

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

download (4).jpgIt’s Thursday night, 4-22-10, at York County Jail; sorry I’m late. I always have so, so much to say, so much spinning about inside my black box, and of course I think that it’s all so important that of course you’ll wanna hear it / read it too! So, I wasn’t sure what to let spill out first – me, or the Revolution. Let’s start with the Revolution & then maybe I’ll let some Rage spill out.

Y’all know I love quotes & here’s one that’s quite apprypos. It’s the first line of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” (something we should all read, at least once), a poem touching upon the themes of both addiction and mental illenss.

This first line reminds me of all of us, those of us still here, & those of us long, long gone:

“I saw the best minds of my generation
destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix.”

We have always been the lowest of the low, the last chosen, the last considered. We are truly seen as “children of a lesser God,” for whatever other situation might be seen as limiting a person, be that race or religion, sexual preference or physical deformity, add mental illness or addiction to that person’s “limiting situation,” and they become beyond the limit, the underclass of an underclass.

Long before Adolph Hitler began murdering Jews, he was ordering the mass executions of the mentally ill – an even easier target than the ever-persecuted Jews. The attempted extermination of our spiritual ancentors with mental illness receives little attention by historians. In a footnote, they may call it “unfortunate,” but not “tragic” in the way it was for the Jews, Gypsies, the J-Witnesses or the Queers – after all, they were mentally ill. Anyway, but the Holocaust of our people began long before the third Reich, & has not ended. We don’t have a descriptive word such as “Holocaust” to describe the age-old socially sanctioned degradation, neglect, rape & murder of our people, although in the bible, our people were seen as demon-possessed. Even in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, founder Bill Wilson in “Bill’s Story” speaks of one of us: “a poor chap committed suicide in our home. He could not or would not accept our way of life.”

Today, They know what we’ve always known – that “poor chap” was one of us, mentally ill. With no alcohol & no proper medication to take its place, his symptons returned with a ferocity he could not live with.

Dual Recovery Anonymous states that we have “two no-fault illnesses,” meaning that we did nothing to intentionally cause our illness, or our addiction, or the situations which follow, from poverty to criminal recividism. Since the advent of the Betty Ford Clinic, & the public recovery of the rich & famous, & then the Big Sur “feel good” recovery surge of the 80s & 90s, addiction has become more understood and, if recovered from successfully, even tolerated. Mental illness, though, from the strictly psychological to the outright behavioral, is still considered by Them, even the most liberal, to be an excuse, a personal weakness and a line on the sand between the worthy humans, & the flawed subhumans.

What follows is the tale of my own big “moment of clarity,” as a person living with both mental illness and addiction, trying to work my way to respectability.

From April of 1997 to December of 1998, I was a participant in the Kennebec County Co-Occurring Disorders Court Program. CODC, of course, is a wonderful alternative to jail time for those of us in the system with the co-occurring disorders of mental illness and chemical addiction. If the money spent on housing our people in the states correctional facilities (the latest I’d heard was $39,000 a year per inmate) was instead channelled into appropriate programs such as CODC, our state would indeed be a healthier (both socially & fiscally) safer place to live.

The standard time int he program, the baseline, so to speak, was one year. I had been in the program for around a year and 1/2. During that time, I had passed every urine screen, every breath test. I had complied with all of the strict conditions of release normally imposed upon CODC clients, and more. I ran two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I had taken over Dual Recovery Anonymous in the area & was so successful that we now had more DRA meetings than any other part of the state. I had co-founded a new recovery practice, the Holistic Recovery Project (http://holistix.atspace.com), Recovery-Through-Wholeness, which had grown to such an extent that we were holding board meetings & working on the paperwork to become a non-profit corporation. Thanks to the rigid structure of the COPC Program, my accomplishments seem to have no end.

We were required to appear before the judge every Monday, although I had been in the program long enough that I was only required to appear every two weeks. I had just written two letters to the Judge & to the CODC team – one (which I’d been invited to submit) my ideas on improve the court program (many which, since my graduation, were in fact implemented). The other letter presented my case for graduating. I went before the Judge one Monday, supremely confident. I felt that I had absolutely exceeded the expectations of the program – I’d certainly exceeded my own. I asked Justice Mills when I would be graduating, and she told me:

“You need to learn some humility.”

Humility? Was that a requirement for graduating from the Program? I was later told by the CODC case manager that the team found me “arrogant.”

I realized at that moment, standing before Justice Mills that neither she, nor the establishment she representative would ever see me, no matter how far I progressed, as anything more than a drunk, an “iller” and a criminal. If it were the old South, she would have called me an “uppity nigger.” I was told later that certain members of teh Court thought that the program was “too easy” for me, that I would have been easier to take if I’d actually had a relapse or two.

So – the establishment found the shuffling, needy “Uncle Toms” of Co-Occurring Disorders easier to stomach than an empowered, “arrogant,” enlightened one.

The problem was, I “didn’t know my place.” I wasn’t acting helpless enough, troubled enough.

Uppity.

Now again – it was the Court Program that allowed me to grow to that level of potential, that re-parented me to success. As I said when I started, there should be more such courts, hospitals, out-patient programs, and community supports.

But – to be really offensive, let’s again use the analogy of the Old South & its treatment of African Americans. Right now in Maine, there’s a movement by the Powers that Be – the white coats (doctors, mental health workers, &c), the black coats (judgese, lawers, politicians, also referring to but not in this particular case undertakers), & the red coats (bleeding hearts) to empower our people. We were released from the tortures of the state hospitals some years back, but that never really worked out, of course due to the money They didn’t want to spend. Now, they want to teach us a pseudo-empowerment, to help us set up a sort of mirror-culture which satires their own. There are lots of consumer councils no one listens to, and the social clubs are peer centers – it’s all a sort of separate but equal.

Of course, you get the connection, true believers, to the Old South. Pseudo-empowered – but not in their neighborhoods, right? Some of us “field hands,” are actually selected to work in the “big house,” so to speak. They give us jobs on these councils or put us in front of TV cameras to show how well They take care of Their illers, &c. In my own case, I was always the kind of holistic soldier / iller-swiller-criminal easier for Them to stomach. I was well educated, well spoken, charming – much akin to the light-skinned black of the Old South. I allowed members of the establishment to be able to say, “Oh, I know one of THEM, he’s not like what you usually think of when you think of THEM. He’s quite enjoyable, actually.”

And when you work in the big house and become a gray-coat (which is the Uncle Tom or Flava Flav of the dually disordered), you can easily convince yourself, as I once did, that they accept you as one of them. That you’ve moved across special borders to become a real Citizen! Yee hee!

Don’t be fooled.

Begging for scraps at the master’s table will only get you scraps. That’s not what They eat.

We deserve more, but they’re not going to give it to us – the poor, the iller, the piller, the swiller.

I am more than just a drunk, the cutter.

More than just an iller, more than

just a criminal.

I AM a patriot, and I am a soldier.

I am worthy, & so are you.

And I could keep going, but Hell – I already have.

Let me leave you with one more thing to Grok on. At Windham – throughout corrections, none of us with mental illness are on our normal regimen of medications. But – most of us have jobs – in the kitchens, cutting lumber, doing upholstery, fixing computers – for just $0.75 an hour – if we’re lucky.

On the outside, we get lots of meds, and we’re told that we can’t work too much or we’ll lose our benefits. We’re taught to be happy getting a check for $700 a month, another $200 in food stamps, and a piece of shit one-bedroom apartment in the shittiest part of town. Thank god we have cable!

Does that make sense?

Okay, my next entry will be more personal – I’ll try to lighten up. I’ll focus on weight-lifting, and sodomy, and trying to bum teabags off of the wealthier inmates.

“Dear ones – it’s here now or it never comes. It’s here now.”
– Bo Lozoff

– Rage

Joshua Dall-Leighton is accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate in his charge at the Southern Maine Reentry Center in Alfred.

Joshua Dall-Leighton of Standish, who made headlines in 2015 when he donated a kidney to a woman who was looking for a donor, denies accusations that he had sexual encounters with a female inmate he supervised. 2015 Press Herald fileJoshua Dall-Leighton of Standish, who made headlines in 2015 when he donated a kidney to a woman who was looking for a donor, denies accusations that he had sexual encounters with a female inmate he supervised. 

A trial begins Monday for a former prison guard accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a woman who was incarcerated at a transitional corrections facility in Alfred.

Joshua Dall-Leighton, 34, faces five charges of gross sexual assault and one of unlawful sexual contact. All are felonies, and he has pleaded not guilty.

Dall-Leighton received widespread media attention in June 2015 for donating a kidney to a woman who advertised her need for a new organ in the back window of her car. That gift of his kidney to a virtual stranger may play a role in his trial.

Among the motions filed in the case is a request by the state to keep that information from the jury. The defense objected, saying it was evidence of his character. It was not clear Friday how the judge had ruled on that motion and others.

The indictment states the alleged crimes took place on multiple days between December 2015 and February 2016. During that time, Dall-Leighton worked at a pre-release center for female inmates in Alfred, where the woman was finishing a prison sentence.

An affidavit filed in York County Superior Court by a Maine Department of Corrections detective describes alleged sexual encounters between the guard and the woman in a prison transport van. Dall-Leighton drove the van to take the woman to her workplace in Sanford, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit quoted a letter the woman wrote to a Bangor attorney describing the advances of an officer at the pre-release center. She said she eventually became intoxicated so she would be transferred from the Southern Maine Reentry Center in Alfred back to the Maine Correctional Facility in Windham to get away from him.

“I avoided sexual intercourse with this officer for some time but because of his position of power, and the many things I stood to lose, I felt pressured to engage,” she wrote. “This officer transported me to work several times per week and we were often alone while driving. I requested a job change, but was repeatedly denied. I felt I was in a no-win situation.”

Dall-Leighton stopped working at the pre-release center when he was charged, his defense lawyer told the Portland Press Herald at the time.

More than two years have passed since a York County grand jury indicted Dall-Leighton in November 2016. Neither the defense attorney nor the District Attorney’s Office returned a call for comment Friday.

The woman was convicted in January 2012 in Rockland of elevated aggravated assault, robbery and burglary. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but six years suspended. Now 34 years old, she has been released and is on probation. The Portland Press Herald does not name the victims of alleged sex crimes without their consent.

She also filed a lawsuit in 2017 against Dall-Leighton, as well as the state and prison officials she said failed to protect her from the assaults. The former guard did not respond to the complaint, meaning he was in default. A federal judge then ordered him to pay $1.1 million to the former inmate, although it is not clear if he can or will pay that sum.

Ezra Willey, who represents the woman in the civil matter but does not have an active role in the criminal case, said he is pursuing options for his client to collect at least part of that award. The judge also dismissed the lawsuit against the state and the corrections officials, a decision Willey has appealed.

Willey credited the woman for coming forward with her allegations against Dall-Leighton and referenced the #MeToo movement that has shed light on sexual misconduct.

“She’s a recovery coach now,” he said. “She’s been speaking at different events about addiction. She’s really gotten out there in the community and is not only trying to help herself, but she’s really trying to help other people. I really admire her for that.”

 

Dear viewers,

None of the contributors to this blog write us for the purpose of ending up on the blog.  Although in the beginning (and next year the Political Prisoners Blog will be ten years old) we solicited and posted, anonymously, things written specifically for the blog, that isn’t necessarily so for all of our current inmate contributors.

Having had relationships with the current roster for over at least three years minimum, most of the entries that you’ll view these days are excerpts taken from personal correspondence between the inmates and the members of the project.  We let everyone know, early on, that excerpts of their letters to us may be used in the blog; far more remains un-posted.  Convicts in Maine, of course, have no way of viewing the blog, or of seeing responses posted to their entries, unless we forward them on.

Recently, Arline Lawless whose content has been featured in blog since January of 2016 was written up for posting to “social media,” referring to a Maine Department of Corrections ban on the same.  She was initially looking at a loss of earned good time, although presently she faces eight days of room restriction.

Unfortunately, until this issue is resolved you’ll be seeing no more contributions from Arline Lawless.

Sincerely,

The Holistic Recovery Project.

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Write to Arline via:

M.C.C. – Arline Lawless – MDOC #60057

17 Mallison Falls Road – Windham, Maine 04062

University of New England students have created a program for jail staff and correction officers to help them deal with stress and other wellness issues
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PORTLAND, Maine — Students at the University of New England are spending time at the Cumberland County Jail this week.

The students have created a program for jail staff and correction officers to help them deal with several issues. The biggest one…stress.

They’re doing it not only for class credit, but because they say it’s the right the thing to do.

All week UNE students, studying to be nurses, occupational therapists and trainers, will help the staff with nutrition, exercise and stress management.

In the stress management session there were all kind of sensory activities like making slime and stress balls, by stuffing flour into a balloon.

It’s a  tool that will come in handy for corrections officer Chelsea Moore.

“There’s a lot of stress looking over your shoulder. There’s a lot of not knowing what’s going to happen at any given second. That’s probably the most tiring part of it” Moore says.

This is not the first time UNE students have been in the jail. They were there last year working with inmates, helping them with all kinds of wellness issues.

While there, they noticed the jail staff and correction officers could use some of the same services.

Kelly Pitre, who is studying occupational therapy at UNE, and will graduate next month, is spearheading this program, which is all volunteer.

“I feel like it’s our turn to take care of them” Pitre says. “I’m passionate about it, it’s a great way to put my skills to the test and help implement stress, well being, health and wellness.”

Libby Alvin, who is set to graduate from UNE’s nursing program next month says while she is busy with her school work, she looks forward to getting out in the community.

“It brings you back to why you’re doing school and why you’re working your butt off everyday in the library, to work with people and help make things better.”

A kind gesture that’s greatly appreciated.

“It’s nice to know somebody thought of us. There’s all this work, put into a whole week of them coming in and spending time with all shifts” says Moore.

Last year Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce awarded UNE students a Volunteer Appreciation Award for their work with inmates.

Richard Pickett said incarcerated women shouldn’t get free menstrual products. But basic medical care isn’t a perk—it’s a human right.

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Earlier this month legislators in Maine voted on a bill amendment that would guarantee incarcerated people access to menstrual products. It’s a good idea: While a federal lawensures that federal prisons offer free pads and tampons, that’s not the case at state and local facilities, where supplies are often limited and women are forced to either devise their own solutions or scrounge together funds to purchase the items at the commissary.

However, four Republicans balked at the proposal and voted against it. Here’s how state representative and Dixfield police chief Richard Pickett put it, according to a reporter who was on the scene: Incarcerated women shouldn’t get more access to menstrual products because “the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club.”

Alex Acquisto, a statehouse reporter for The Bangor Daily News, quoted Pickett in a tweet. Per Acquisto’s account, Pickett argued that women already have all the menstrual products they need.

“Quite frankly, and I don’t mean this in any disrespect, the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club…. [T]hey have a right to have these and they have them. If that wasn’t the case, then I would be supporting the motion, but they do,” Pickett said, as cited in a tweet from Acquisto.

According to the Press Herald, several jails in Maine already provide free menstrual products, but incarcerated women have to request them. The proposed legislation would make the pads and tampons more freely available, and there would be no limit on the number that women could have at one time.

Whitney Parrish, a director at the Maine Women’s Lobby, broke it down for critics, according to the Maine Beacon.

“You’re given a limited supply of menstrual products per month, often of low quality due to cost saving, and when you run out, you’re out…. You may have no money to go to the commissary, and if you do, you may have to weigh that purchase against other necessities, like making phone calls to your children or attorney. You are forced to make the impossible decision of constructing your own menstrual products, using anything from clothing or notebook paper in place of a tampon,” she said.

Luckily, most saw it as Parrish does. A 6-4 vote allowed the bill amendment to advance, proving that most people understand that basic women’s health care isn’t a luxe perk. It’s a human right.

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Write to Arline via:

Maine Correctional Center – Arline Lawless – MDOC #60057

17 Mallison Falls Road – Windham, Maine 04062

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Political Prisoners

Welcome to the blog from inmates of Maine's jails and prisons.

In collaboration with the Holistic Recovery Project, the Political Prisoners Blog provides a prisoner's view into what's happening at Maine's correctional facilities.

Only your vigilance on the outside can guarrentee that justice goes on on the inside.

If you'd like to contact one of our inmate bloggers, send us an email.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.

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