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The administrator of the Cumberland County Jail said overtime and double shifts are typically required of corrections officers twice a week as the jail faces a staffing shortage.

The case of a corrections officer who police said had just come off a 16-hour shift at the jail before causing a crash in Gorham that killed a 9-year-old girl, is raising questions about the work load for officers.

Police said Kenneth Morang, 61, admitted that he fell asleep before the July 2019 crash on Route 25.

Morang often volunteered to work 90 hours a week to make more money and to help fill a large staffing shortage at the Cumberland County Jail.

Of the 128 budgeted positions at the Cumberland County Jail, 27 are unfilled. That is a 16 percent vacancy rate.

Staffing shortages are common for jails in prisons across Maine. The Penobscot County Jail in Bangor has a 13 percent job vacancy rate, and the six state prisons are down 40 officers.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty said the jobs are hard to fill. They are dangerous, stressful jobs that pay about $40,000 per year before overtime.

Corrections officers serve an average of three years before moving on to law enforcement jobs or other careers.

Because of the persistent staffing shortages, overtime for officers is often forced.

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The medical treatment program addresses addiction, provides inmates resources after their release

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Image by Arline Lawless, Inmate at the Maine Correctional Center

WINDHAM, Maine — A pilot program offered by the Maine Department of Corrections has been successful thus far in rehabilitating inmates with an opioid use disorder.

Under the MDOC’s Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, inmates with an opioid use disorder that are 90 days from their release date have the opportunity to choose a medication that will help them get off the drugs.

Officials are looking at expanding a pilot program offered by the Maine Department of Corrections to inmates living with an opioid use disorder. (Photo/MDOC)
Officials are looking at expanding a pilot program offered by the Maine Department of Corrections to inmates living with an opioid use disorder. (Photo/MDOC)

WGME reports that since the implementation of the MAT program in May, 60 inmates have enrolled and 40 have graduated. MDOC officials said 100% of the inmates who have graduated from the MAT program are actively participating in drug treatment after their release.

“This is no different that treating a diabetic or a patient with a chronic illness that needs treatment,” Maine DOC Deputy Commissioner Ryan Thornell told WGME. “There’s no reason we should not provide a treatment that we know, evidence tells us, works.”

Right now, the pilot costs $35,000 a month to run at four out of the DOC’s six facilities, according to WGME. Thornell is hopeful that the program will be expanded to two more state facilities by 2020.

“That’s going to take several million dollars to expand like that but this is a priority for the state of Maine,” Thronell told WGME. “I think we’re going to have large support to make that expansion when the time is right.”

Benjamin Schreiber, not pictured, is serving a life sentence for bludgeoning a man to death in 1996.

A court in the US has refused to release a convict who argued that he had completed his life sentence when he briefly “died”.

Benjamin Schreiber, 66, was sentenced to life without parole in Iowa for bludgeoning a man to death in 1996.

He said his sentence ended when his heart stopped during a medical emergency four years ago, even though he was revived.

But judges said Schreiber’s bid – while original – was “unpersuasive”.

They said that he was “unlikely” to be dead, as he had signed his own legal documents in the case.

In 2015, Schreiber developed septic poisoning as a result of kidney stones. He had to be resuscitated by doctors in hospital, but fully recovered and was returned to prison.

In Schreiber’s claim, filed last year, he said that he had been resuscitated against his will, and that his brief “death” meant that his life sentence had technically ended.

The district court ruled against Schreiber – a decision his lawyer took to the state’s court of appeal.

On Wednesday, the appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling. It added that his sentence would not end until a medical examiner formally declared him dead.

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Write to Kenny via:

Maine State Prison – Kenneth McDonald – MDOC #114427

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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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.”

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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.

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