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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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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.

If you have…..

INTEGRITY  COURAGE  COMMITMENT

Let’s talk!!  The Department of Corrections is currently seeking applicants for Correctional Officers.  View a list of our current openings below or call (207) 287-4498 to find out how to join our team and begin an exciting career in Corrections!

Watch the video below to see what the job is all about and to find out what we’re looking for in applicants.  Do you have what it takes?

https://player.vimeo.com/video/82035562

Correctional Officers have many opportunities for career diversity and advancement.

Click here for more information.

If you are interested in a challenging career in the Maine Department of Corrections, the following positions are now open for recruitment.The links below will give you the job postings and information on how to apply.

Click here for medical, mental health and substance abuse opportunities

Paperwork to get the process started

Direct Hire Career Opportunities

Search Jobs

Search Jobs  Reset

Correctional Trade Shop Supervisor

Job Class Code:  Grade: 18 Salary: $18.38-23.30Open: February 15, 2019Close: March 15, 2019

Location: Warren, Maine 04864

Job Category: *Open Competitive

Position Type: Full Time

Correctional Officer, Maine State Prison

Close: Once Filled

Location: Warren, Maine 04864

Job Category: Correctional Services

Position Type: Full Time

Correctional Plant Maintenance Engineer I

Close: Once Filled

Location: Warren, Maine 04864

Job Category: Engineering

Position Type: Full Time

Correctional Electrician II

Close: Once Filled

Location: Warren, Maine 04864

Job Category: Electrician

Position Type: Full Time

Correctional Officer Cook – Maine State Prison

Close: Once Filled

Location: Warren, Maine 04864

Job Category: Correctional Services

Position Type: Full Time

Correctional Officer Cook – Maine Correctional Center

Close: Once Filled

Location: Windham, Maine 04062

Job Category: Correctional Services

Position Type: Full Time

Corrections Officer, Maine Correctional Center

Close: Once Filled

Location: Windham, Maine 04062

Job Category: Correctional Services

Position Type: Full Time

Deputy Warden – Programs and Services

Close: March 1, 2019

Location: Warren, Maine 04864

Job Category: Correctional Services

Position Type: Full Time

Director of Security

Close: March 13, 2019

Location: Charleston, Maine 04422

Job Category: Correctional Services

Position Type: Full Time

Financial Analyst (PSC 1) Confidential

Close: Once Filled

Location: TBD, null null

Job Category: Accounting/Finance

Position Type: Part Time

Juvenile Program Worker, Long Creek Youth Development Center

Close: Once Filled

Location: South Portland, Maine 04106

Job Category: Correctional Services

Position Type: Full Time

Office Specialist I (2 Positions available)

Close: March 15 2019

Location: Windham, Maine 04062

Job Category: Administrative

Position Type: Full Time

Becoming a Correctional Officer

The Maine Department of Corrections is recruiting for tomorrow’s Correctional Leaders!  We are looking for ethical, dependable, career-oriented men and women.  We provide interesting, hands-on training to provide you with the skills and abilities you need to do your job effectively and ensure your professional success.  Correctional Officers attend a six-week training academy covering all aspects of correctional work.  Correctional Officers receive continuous reinforcement, which highlights the Department of Corrections’ Core Values – INTEGRITY, COURAGE, and COMMITMENT.

Benefits as a Correctional Officer

A career as a Correctional Officer offers competitive pay and benefits that include:

Requirements

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

Age:  Applicants must be at least 18 years of age prior to date of hire.

Education:  Applicants must be a high school graduate or hold an equivalency certificate (GED).

Conduct:  Applicants must have no serious criminal or extensive motor vehicle records.  See Automatic Disqualifiers for details.

Physical:  Applicants must be in adequate physical condition to perform the duties of a Correctional Officer. A valid, State of Maine Driver’s License is required upon employment.

Hiring Process

  1. APPLICATION EVALUATION: Applications are reviewed to verify that each candidate meets the established Minimum Qualifications/Requirements. Applicants who do not meet these requirements are disqualified from further consideration.
  2. PHYSICAL AGILITY TEST (PAT):  Standards for successful completion of the PAT are available upon request.
  3. ORAL BOARD INTERVIEW: Applicants successfully meeting the Minimum Requirements and who have passed PAT will be scheduled for an Oral Board Interview. The Oral Board is a structured interview that evaluates applicants’ skills in the areas of Commitment & Independence; Judgment & Logic; Decision Making Decisiveness; Tact & Diplomacy; and Communication Skills. The Oral Board is a pass/fail component of the applicant process.
  4. BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION:  Applicants who successfully pass the Oral Board Interview will have a finger-print based criminal history record check along with a prior employment reference check.
  5. ALERT TEST: Applicants must pass the ALERT test prior to being hired as a Correctional Officer.  The Alert Test will be set up upon completion of all previous steps. This test must meet the Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s minimum passing score for entrance into basic corrections training. Test questions are multiple choice and fall within the categories of Writing Skills and Reading Comprehension.

You should be aware before starting the application process that the following are disqualifiers for this position.

If you:

  1. Have been convicted of murder or any crime classified in Maine law as a Class A, Class B, or Class C crime (i.e., any crime with a maximum term of imprisonment of one year or more), or of any substantially similar crime in another jurisdiction outside the State of Maine;
  2. Have been convicted of any crime classified in Maine law as a Class D crime (i.e., any crime with a maximum possible term of imprisonment of less than one year), or of any substantially similar crime in another jurisdiction outside the State of Maine;
  3. Have been convicted of any of the following provisions of the Maine Criminal Code (Title 17-A of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated), or of any substantially similar crime in another jurisdiction outside the State of Maine;
    1. Theft, including, but not limited to: Theft by deception; Insurance deception; Theft by extortion; Theft of lost, mislaid or mistakenly delivered property; Theft of services; Theft by misapplication of property; Unauthorized use of property;
    2. Chapter 19, Falsification in Official Matters, including, but not limited to:  Perjury; False swearing; Unsworn falsification; Tampering with a witness, informant, juror, or victim; Falsifying physical evidence; Tampering with public records or information; Impersonating a public servant;
    3. Bribery and Corrupt Practices, including, but not limited to: Bribery in official and political matters; Improper influence; Improper compensation for past action; Improper gifts to public servants; Improper compensation for services; Purchase of public office; Official oppression; Misuse of information; or
    4. Chapter 45, Drugs, including, but not limited to: Unlawful or Aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs; Unlawfully furnishing scheduled drugs; Unlawful possession of scheduled drugs; Acquiring drugs by deception; Stealing drugs; Cultivating marijuana; Illegal importation of scheduled drugs; Unlawful possession, unlawful trafficking, or unlawful furnishing of synthetic hallucinogenic drugs;
  4. Have engaged in any conduct described in paragraphs 1, 2, and/or 3, above;
  5. Have been convicted of any crime that is a violation of any domestic abuse law of any State or Federal jurisdiction;
  6. Have been convicted of operating under the influence (O.U.I.) of intoxicating liquor and/or drugs within the ten (10) years preceding the date of your application;
  7. Are currently abusing drugs or alcohol; or
  8. Falsify or misrepresent a material fact by signing this document, or when you are/were interviewed during the background investigation phase of the application process.

HOW TO APPLY:

We require the State of Maine Direct Hire Application and the DOC Supplemental Application.  Submit both to:

Department of Corrections Service Center
Attn: Clint Peebles, HR Recruiter
doc.jobs@maine.gov or fax to (207)287-4310

Or mail to:

Department of Corrections Service Center
Attn: Clint Peebles, HR Recruiter
25 Tyson Drive
SHS 111
Augusta, ME  04333-0111

In the list of Direct Hire Career Opportunities above, click on the YES in the “Supplemental Required” column.  Direct Hire Application Forms may also be obtained from the State Bureau of Human Resources, a local branch of the Maine Career Center, or any of our facilities.

For More Information – Thank you for considering a career with the Maine Department of Corrections.  For more information about the hiring process or about employment opportunities, please contact Clint Peebles at doc.jobs@maine.gov or (207)287-4498.

For all other Human Resources inquiries, please contact the Human Resource Business Partner below.

Mountain View Correctional Facility / Downeast Correctional Facility, Contact: Darlene Sage
Long Creek Youth Development Center, Contact Charlene Gamage
Maine Correctional Center/Southern Maine Reentry Center, Contact: Michelle Senence
Maine State Prison / Bolduc Correctional Facility, Contact: Jeanne Fales
Adult Community Corrections/Juvenile Community Corrections, Contact: Rhonda Hutchinson-Peaslee

Maine Department of Corrections, Come for the Job….Stay for the Challenge!

The Maine Department of Corrections is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.  Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.  We provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request.

24 January 2019

Jay-Z and Meek Mill launch Reform AllianceJay-Z and Meek Mill have partnered with the owners of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia 76ers, among others, to launch the Reform Alliance

Jay-Z, Meek Mill and sport and business leaders have pledged $50m (£38m) to reform the US criminal justice system.

The Reform Alliance, which was inspired by Meek Mill’s recent stint in prison for a minor probation violation, hopes to free one million prisoners in five years.

The owners of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia 76ers, Robert Kraft and Michael Rubin, are co-founders.

Reform says it wants to help people who are “trapped in the system”.

The group’s “mission” is to “dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system, starting with probation and parole”.

“To win, we will leverage our considerable resources to change laws, policies, hearts and minds,” it says.

More than six million people can currently count themselves as part of the “correctional population” of the USA – which includes people in prisons and local jails, but is mostly made up of the more than four million people on probation or parole, according to Bureau of Justice statistics.

Probation is often given as a sentence instead of time in prison and can include conditions like being on a curfew or going to rehab.

Parole is when an inmate is released early from prison with similar conditions to probation.

Meek Mill has experienced all three: probation, parole and jail.

The Reform Alliance says his case is an example of the “devastating and long-lasting effects” that can occur after one interaction with the criminal justice system.

The rapper was arrested in 2007 – he says wrongfully – for drug and gun charges, aged 19.

He was sentenced in 2009 to between 11 and 23 months in county prison, but was released on parole after five months and put on house arrest.

It was during this time he started to make his name nationally as a rapper, signing to Rick Ross’s label and releasing a string of hugely successful mixtapes.

Before long he was a platinum-selling artist.

But a parole violation for suspected cannabis use resulted in a ban on touring, and then after failing to get his travel plans approved by the court Meek was sentenced to prison again in 2014.

Examples of parole violations that can land people back in prison range from being late to appointments with parole officers or missing a curfew, to things more specific to the crime that was committed – like failing to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

“When you talk about these so-called technical violations, it’s not technical to the kid who can never see her mum again because she showed up late for a meeting. That’s not technical, that’s devastating for that individual child,” Reform Alliance CEO Van Jones said.

Violations over the next few years resulted in his probation period being extended – it now lasts up until 2023 – as well as the five months in prison which ended in April 2018 and birthed the #FreeMeek movement.

It’s people with a similar story to Meek’s, that have been “caught up on probation and parole”, that Reform says it wants to focus on first.

‘If someone commits a crime they should go to jail’

“Being from the environment I’m from, I don’t even think it’s possible for you to be an angel,” Meek said as the organisation was announced in New York.

“You grow up around murder on a daily basis, you grow up in drug-infested neighbourhoods.

“And every time I started to further my life with the music industry, there was always something that brought me back to ground zero,” he said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who attended the event, said he was a supporter of criminal justice reforms that are “fair, help our system work better and smarter, and save crucial taxpayer dollars while balancing public safety and victim concerns”.

Across the US, roughly a third of people on parole are black, according to Bureau of Justice statistics – something Jay-Z raised at the event.

“We want to be very clear. If someone commits a crime they should go to jail. But these things are just disproportionate and the whole world knows it,” he said.

Jay-Z has been vocal about Meek’s case, writing in the New York Times while he was imprisoned.

“On the surface, this may look like the story of yet another criminal rapper who didn’t smarten up and is back where he started,” he wrote.

“What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day.

“I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s. Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”

 

“You just sell it like you were selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers.

In the early 1980s, the Corrections Corporation of America pioneered the idea of running prisons for a profit. “You just sell it like you were selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers,” one of its founders told Inc. magazine. Today, corporate-run prisons hold eight percent of America’s inmates. Here’s how the private prison industry took off:

1983

Thomas Beasley, Doctor R. Crants, and T. Don Hutto start Corrections Corporation of America, the world’s first private prison company.

1984
CCA begins operating a county jail and a juvenile detention center in Tennessee. It also opens its first privately owned facility in Houston, a motel hastily remodeled to hold immigration detainees.

1985
A federal judge orders Tennessee to stop admitting inmates to its overcrowded prisons. CCA offers, unsuccessfully, to pay $250 million for a 99-year lease on the state’s entire prison system.

1986
CCA goes public, saying its facility design and use of electronic surveillance mean it can operate larger prisons “with less staff than the public sector would have needed.”

Dog team at Winn Correctional Center

A guard dog at Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana
1987
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, later known as the GEO Group, gets its first contract to run a federal immigration detention center.

1990s
Among the “model” bills ?to emerge from the American Legislative Exchange Council‘s criminal justice task force, which CCA later co-chairs, are truth-in-sentencing and three-strikes legislation that help fuel the ’90s prison boom. (CCA says it did not vote on or comment on any proposed ALEC legislation.)*

1997
Arguing that it’s in the property business, CCA becomes a real estate investment trust for tax purposes. A new affiliate, Prison Realty Trust, raises $447 million for a prison-buying spree.

Private And Public Prison Populations 1990-2014

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/KYDjl/2/

1998
The Justice Department investigates a CCA prison in Youngstown, Ohio, following a spate of escapes, stabbings, and killings. In addition to finding inexperienced and poorly trained guards, the probe reveals that CCA took on maximum-security inmates at a facility designed for a medium-security population.

2000
As prison occupancy rates drop, Prison Realty Trust nearly goes bankrupt. CCA stock, once nearly $150 a share, falls to 19 cents. The company drops the trust and restructures.

CCA Stock Price, 1997-2016

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/LsEny/3/

2004
A Justice Department report finds a “disturbing degree” of physical abuse by staff and underreporting of violence among inmates at a Baltimore juvenile facility run by the private prison operator Correctional Services Corporation. CSC is later acquired by GEO.

2005
Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) introduces the Private Prison Information Act, which would require private prisons holding federal inmates to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests. It died, as have at least seven similar bills opposed by CCA and GEO.

2007

A drawing by an immigrant child held at CCA's T. Don Hutto Center.

A drawing by an immigrant child held at CCA’s T. Don Hutto Center. ACLU

CCA’s and GEO’s stock prices jump as both companies jockey to run the federal government’s expanding immigration detention centers. Meanwhile, the ACLU settles a case against Immigration and Customs Enforcement for conditions in the CCA-managed T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Texas, where about half the detainees are kids. Under the agreement, children no longer wear prison uniforms and may move more freely.

2008
The New York Times investigates the deaths of immigration detainees, such as a Guinean man at a CCA-run facility who fractured his skull and was placed in solitary confinement before being taken to a hospital. He died after four months in a coma.

2009
A CCA representative attends a meeting where ALEC members draft the legislation that will eventually become Arizona’s notorious anti-immigration law. CCA denies having a hand in writing the bill. It cuts ties with ALEC the following year.

2010
An ACLU suit alleges rampant violence at a CCA-run Idaho prison known as “gladiator school.” The lawsuit claims the prison is understaffed and fosters an environment that “relies on the degradation, humiliation, and subjugation of prisoners.” The FBI investigates but doesn’t pursue charges. In Kentucky, the governor orders all female inmates removed from a CCA prison after more than a dozen cases of alleged sexual abuse by guards.

2011
 

Inmates at Winn Correctional Center

Inmates at Winn Correctional Center

CCA becomes the first private prison company to purchase a state facility, buying Ohio’s Lake Erie Correctional Institutionas part of a privatization plan proposed by Gov. John Kasich and supported by his corrections chief, former CCA Director Gary Mohr.

 

2012
CCA offers to buy prisons in 48 states in exchange for 20-year management contracts. The same year, a GEO-operated youth facility in Mississippi where staff sexually abused minors is described by a judge as a “cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions.” At another Mississippi facility, a 24-year-old CCA employee is killed during a riot over prisoners’ complaints about poor food, inadequate medical care, and disrespectful guards.

2013
CCA converts back to a real estate investment trust, as does GEO. Mother Jones reports that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $2.2 million in GEO.

2014
As it did during at least the previous five years, CCA’s annual report flags criminal justice reform—including drug decriminalization and the reduction of mandatory minimum sentences—as a “risk factor” for its business.* Chris Epps, Mississippi’s prison commissioner and the president of the American Correctional Association, is charged with taking kickbacks from a private prison contractor.

2015
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) co-sponsors the Justice is Not for Sale Act, which would ban all government contracts with private prison companies. After Hillary Clinton is criticizedfor using campaign bundlers who’d worked as lobbyists for CCA and GEO, she promises to no longer take their money and says, “We should end private prisons and private detention centers.”

blog16-privateprisonsmap-1160x768

 

* This item has been clarified.

4,900 people from Maine are behind bars today – Prisonpolicy.org

Pie chart showing that 3,800 Maine residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities

Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years

graph showing the number of people in state prison and local jails per 100,000 residents in Maine from 1978 to 2015Also see these Maine graphs:

Graph showing the number of people in Maine jails who were convicted and the number who were unconvicted, for the years 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2005, and 2013.

Today, Maine’s incarceration rates stand out internationally

graphic comparing the incarceration rates of the founding NATO members with the incarceration rates of the United States and the state of Maine. The incarceration rate of 698 per 100,000 for the United States and 363 for Maine is much higher than any of the founding NATO membersIn the U.S., incarceration extends beyond prisons and local jails to include other systems of confinement. The U.S. and state incarceration rates in this graph include people held by these other parts of the justice system, so they may be slightly higher than the commonly reported incarceration rates that only include prisons and jails. Details on the data are available in States of Incarceration: The Global Context. We also have a version of this graph focusing on the incarceration of women.

People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails

2010 graph showing incarceration rates per 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic groups in Maine

racial and ethnic disparities between the prison/jail and general population in ME as of 2010See also our detailed graphs about WhitesBlacks, and American Indians/Native Americans in Maine prisons and jails.

Maine’s criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails

Pie chart showing that 10,000 Maine residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole

Which Jailbreak went smoother?

 

 

Who fought the law better?  Bobby Fuller or the Clash?

 

 

 

There are 2.2 million people in the nation’s prisons and jails—a 500% increase over the last 40 years. Changes in law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase. The results are overcrowding in prisons and fiscal burdens on states, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not an effective means of achieving public safety.


International Rates of Incarceration per 100,000
0200400600U.S.RwandaRussiaBrazilAustraliaSpainChinaCanadaFranceAustriaGermanyDenmarkSwedenIndia

Country Incarceration rate (per 100,000)
U.S. 670
Rwanda 434
Russia 413
Brazil 325
Australia 167
Spain 126
China 118
Canada 114
France 102
Austria 94
Germany 78
Denmark 59
Sweden 57
India 33
Data source: International Centre for Prison Studies. Download chart

U.S. State and Federal Prison Population, 1925-2016
192519301936194219481954196019661972197819841990199620022008201120140500,0001,000,0001,500,000

Year Population
1925 91,669
1926 97,991
1928 116,390
1930 129,453
1932 137,997
1934 138,316
1936 145,038
1938 160,285
1940 173,706
1942 150,384
1944 132,456
1946 140,079
1948 155,977
1950 166,123
1952 168,233
1954 182,901
1956 189,565
1958 205,643
1960 212,953
1962 218,830
1964 214,336
1966 199,654
1968 187,914
1970 196,429
1972 196,092
1974 218,466
1976 262,833
1978 294,396
1980 315,974
1982 395,516
1984 443,398
1986 522,084
1988 603,732
1990 739,980
1992 846,277
1994 1,016,691
1996 1,137,722
1998 1,245,402
2000 1,331,278
2002 1,380,516
2004 1,496,629
2006 1,570,861
2008 1,610,446
2009 1,613,740
2010 1,605,127
2011 1,598,780
2012 1,571,013
2013 1,516,879
2014 1,508,636
2015 1,476,847
2016 1,458,173
Data source: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Download chart

How did this happen?

We started sending more people to prison.

A series of law enforcement and sentencing policy changes of the “tough on crime” era resulted in dramatic growth in incarceration. Since the official beginning of the War on Drugs in 1982, the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in the U.S. skyrocketed from 40,900 in 1980 to 450,345 in 2016. Today, there are more people behind bars for a drug offense than the number of people who were in prison or jail for any crime in 1980. The number of people sentenced to prison for property and violent crimes has also increased even during periods when crime rates have declined.

People in Prisons & Jails for Drug Offenses, 1980 & 2016
19802016State PrisonsFederal PrisonsJails060,000120,000180,000

Location 1980 2016
State Prisons 19,000 197,200
Federal Prisons 4,700 81,900
Jails 17,200 171,245
Data source: Bureau of Justice Statistics; The Sentencing Project. Download chart

We started sending people to prison for much longer terms.

Number of People Serving Life Sentences, 1984-2016
1984199220032005200820122016050,000100,000150,000

Year Number of People Serving Life Sentences
1984 34,000
1992 69,845
2003 127,677
2005 132,000
2008 142,727
2012 157,966
2016 161,957
Data source: The Sentencing Project. Download chart
Harsh sentencing laws like mandatory minimums, combined with cutbacks in parole release, keep people in prison for longer periods of time. The National Research Council reported that half of the 222% growth in the state prison population between 1980 and 2010 was due to an increase of time served in prison for all offenses. There has also been a historic rise in the use of life sentences: one in nine people in prison is now serving a life sentence, nearly a third of whom are sentenced to life without parole.

Mass incarceration has not touched all communities equally

The racial impact of mass incarceration

Sentencing policies, implicit racial bias, and socioeconomic inequity contribute to racial disparities at every level of the criminal justice system. Today, people of color make up 37% of the U.S. population but 67% of the prison population. Overall, African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences. Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Hispanic men are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as non-Hispanic white men.

Lifetime Likelihood of Imprisonment for U.S. Residents Born in 2001

lifetime likelihood

This estimate is based on data from 2001. Data source: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Download infographic

Mass incarceration and public safety

Incarceration has some impact on crime, but the impact is one of diminishing returns.

Crime rates have declined substantially since the early 1990s, but studies suggest that rising imprisonment has not played a major role in this trend. The National Research Council concluded that while prison growth was a factor in reducing crime, “the magnitude of the crime reduction remains highly uncertain and the evidence suggests it was unlikely to have been large.” Several factors explain why this impact was relatively modest.

First, incarceration is particularly ineffective at reducing certain kinds of crimes: in particular, youth crimes, many of which are committed in groups, and drug crimes. When people get locked up for these offenses, they are easily replaced on the streets by others seeking an income or struggling with addiction.

Second, people tend to “age out” of crime. Research shows that crime starts to peak in the mid- to late- teenage years and begins to decline when individuals are in their mid-20s. After that, crime drops sharply as adults reach their 30s and 40s. The National Research Council study concludes:

“Because recidivism rates decline markedly with age, lengthy prison sentences, unless they specifically target very high-rate or extremely dangerous offenders, are an inefficient approach to preventing crime by incapacitation.”

As a result, the excessive sentencing practices in the U.S. are largely counterproductive and extremely costly.

State Expenditures on Corrections in Billions, 1985-2016
1985199019952000200520102016015304560

Year State Expenditures on Corrections
1985 $6.7 Billion
1990 $16.9 Billion
1995 $26.1 Billion
2000 $36.4 Billion
2005 $42.3 Billion
2010 $51.4 Billion
2016 $57.7 Billion
Data source: National Association of State Budget Officers. Download chart

Significant reforms in recent years

After nearly 40 years of continued growth, the U.S. prison population has stabilized in recent years.

This is partially a result of declining crime rates, but has largely been achieved through pragmatic changes in policy and practice. For more than a decade, the political climate of criminal justice reform has been evolving toward evidence-based, commonsense approaches to public safety. This can be seen in a variety of legislative, judicial, and policy changes that have successfully decreased incarceration without adverse impacts on public safety.

At the state level:

  • California voters passed ballot measure Proposition 47 in 2014, which reclassified certain low-level property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and will reinvest some of the fiscal savings into prevention programs
  • New York policymakers reformed the Rockefeller drug laws in 2009, which imposed harsh mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses

At the federal level:

  • In 2014, the United States Sentencing Commission unanimously voted to reduce excessive sentences for up to 46,000 people currently serving time for federal drug offenses
  • Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, which reduced the disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine offenses
    As promising as these changes may be, we are a long way from solving our national problem of mass incarceration—and the way forward is clear.

Where do we need to go from here?

Just as a bicycle works best when it uses different gears based on the terrain, we need a justice system that has different responses for different situations—shifting gears to treatment, prevention, and long-term public safety solutions as appropriate. By taking a practical approach to criminal justice reform, we can decrease crime, enhance public safety, and make more responsible use of our resources.

In particular, we need to start by:

  • Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and cutting back on excessively lengthy sentences; for example, by imposing a 20-year maximum on prison terms.
  • Shifting resources to community-based prevention and treatment for substance abuse.
  • Investing in interventions to that promote strong youth development and respond to delinquency in age-appropriate and evidence-based ways.
  • Examining and addressing the policies and practices, conscious or not, that contribute to racial inequity at every stage of the justice system.
  • Removing barriers that make it harder for individuals with criminal records to turn their lives around.

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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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