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The Maine legislature’s Judiciary Committee has scheduled a work session on eight bills on July 15 beginning at 9 am. You can listen and/or watch this session through links from the committee page at http://legislature.maine.gov/committee/#Committees/JUD  This is also where you can find the more complete schedule for this joint committee.

We have been involved with two of these bills:

LD 302 An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Post-conviction Review in Order To Facilitate the Fair Hearing of All Evidence in Each Case Involving a Claim of Innocence. This bill extends the time for filing and requires that a petition for post-conviction review claiming actual innocence receive at least one evidentiary hearing in which the petitioner may submit new evidence and evidence submitted in prior proceedings on the same matter.image

LD 1061 An Act To Establish a Fund To Compensate Unjustly Incarcerated Persons.

For each bill, the LD number is linked to legislative information about the bill. Including text. MPAC has already testified on these bills and you can see our testimony by following the link then looking at Committee Info.  If you wish to have input, you can write to the chairs of the Committee: Senator Carpenter, Michael.Carpenter@Legislature.Maine.gov and Representative Bailey, Donna.Bailey@Legislature.Maine.gov

Yours in Love and Service,

peter

Peter Lehman

Legislative Coordinator

Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition

Thomaston, Maine

(207) 542-1496

Committed to ethical, positive, and humane changes in Maine’s prison system

Savannah Smith, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter in Kloe Hawksley’s death. Smith was sentenced to 20 years in prison, all but 10 years suspended.
Savannah Smith (‘a-rain-filled-Tabitha’) during her April 2019 court appearance.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Bucksport woman who was charged with murder in connection to the October 2017 death of 2-year-old Kloe Hawksley plead guilty to manslaughter Thursday, Maine Attorney General’s Office spokesman Marc Malon says.

Savannah Smith, 22, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, all but 10 years suspended with four years of probation.

Smith was originally charged with murder and was arrested in April 2019.

Kloe was found dead inside of a home at 264 Central Street in Bucksport on October 18, 2017 after a 9-1-1 call regarding an unresponsive child. Smith was the partner of Kloe’s father, Tyler Hawksley.

The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma of the torso with multiple organ lacerations, Maine Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said.

The state medical examiner’s office said Kloe died four to six hours before first responders found her. She was reportedly injured four to ten hours before her death.

According to The Ellsworth American newspaper, Robbin argued Kloe was the victim of “repeated physical abuse.”

 

RELATED: Court documents reveal cause of death for 2-year-old Bucksport girl

 

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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

 

flier3-1.jpg

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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Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN
People arrested and held at the Penobscot County Jail make their first court appearances in this file photo.

According to the Maine Bail Code, bail is set to “reasonably” ensure the appearance of a criminal defendant, ensure the integrity of the judicial process and ensure the safety of other people in the community.

Nowhere in that stated purpose and intent does it say anything about creating a system where those who can afford to post bail are released back into the community, while those unable to pay must stay in jail — complicating their lives and costing taxpayers money.

But too often with the use of cash bail, that can be the result.

“Money bail is one of the most broken parts of our legal system. It lets the size of a person’s wallet determine whether a legally innocent person accused of a crime can return home or will remain locked up in jail while awaiting their day in court,” Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross testified about a bail reform bill she has introduced. “This unfair and unjust system punishes those without money or resources even before they have had a chance to defend themselves.

There is a strong argument here about fairness and equality under the law. And in a state where jails are overcrowded and between 60 and 80 percent of jail inmates are being held awaiting court dates, there is also a fiscal argument to be made in the debate about cash bail.

Maine needs to find ways to decrease the number of people who languish in jail before their trials, while still working to reasonably ensure defendants show up to court and that the safety of others in the community isn’t compromised. Reforming the use of cash bail can be one piece in a very complicated puzzle.

Last year, Ross, a Democrat from Portland, introduced a sweeping bail reform bill, L.D. 1421, that was eventually carried over to the current legislative session. Since then, the bill has been paired back significantly. The amended version would eliminate cash bail for most Class E crimes — the bottom rung of Maine’s criminal code, which includes offenses such as driving without a license and theft. Importantly, this bill would keep cash bail for crimes related to sexual assault and domestic violence.

The amended bill would also limit some of the factors considered or conditions attached in the bail process, while requiring that other factors, such as the defendant’s mental needs, to be considered.

Meagan Sway, the Maine ACLU’s Policy Counsel, told the BDN that the original bill was “very ambitious” and described the amended version as a “small, incremental step.”

The importance of incrementalism cannot be overstated. Maine does not need to replicate the experience of other states, such as New York, where larger cash bail reforms have drawn backlash.

The cash bail reform proposed in the amended version of L.D. 1421 is modest — not just in comparison to the original bill, but in comparison to the overall changes needed in our criminal justice system.

“Ultimately, it is hard to imagine a more balanced form of legislation,” Andrew Robinson, the District Attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, told the Judiciary Committee. “It is narrowly tailored to address low level offenses and does not attempt to enact the broad sweeping bail reform legislation that is currently causing complications in other states.”

Robinson stressed he was speaking for himself, and not on behalf of other prosecutors. He told the BDN that many of the other elected district attorneys he has spoken to are in “philosophical agreement” with the current version of the legislation — though some questions remain.

For example, Penobscot County District Attorney Marianne Lynch said she is “mostly in support” of the idea of removing cash bail for most Class E crimes, with some exceptions. But she does have technical concerns.

“For example if someone fails to report to court, there should be some cash bail set to as a means of getting those people in court,” Lynch said in an email to the BDN. “It is technical and there could be a carve out for this particular charge.”

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce also told the BDN that he has some specific concerns about Talbot Ross’ amended bill, but expressed general support and said the bill is “moving in the right direction.”

Joyce said that the criminal justice system is “ripe for, really, a deep look at how we’re doing things,” while cautioning that the pendulum should not swing completely to the side of reform.

The modest approach to cash bail reform, which is slated for a legislative work session on Tuesday in Augusta, offers an incremental step forward. There may be a few more details to work out, but it’s ultimately a step that legislators should take.

~

[Rage: it is hard believing that you’re treated innocent until proven guilty when you’re locked up with a high bail. I recall saying to another inmate prior to going before the judge years ago: 

“This is how it feels to be presumed innocent?”

However, politicians won’t do anything to change things unless they can make money from it; don’t be shocked. This is present-day USAmerica; it’s all about the yen. – Rage.]

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

 

flier3-1.jpg

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

 

flier3-1.jpg

CCI11082019
Lance Tapley / The Free Press:

“I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children & your children’s children & generations yet unborn we’ve got to guard this moment. This is our watch.” – Elijah Cummings
“I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children & your children’s children & generations yet unborn we’ve got to guard this moment. This is our watch.” – Elijah Cummings

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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.

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