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I am doing well.

Finished two college courses. and started four more last January.  I’ve got a paying job with the youth center group.  Things are moving in the right direction.

Praise be to God!

I’d like to hear from any of you as soon as ever.

As I am,

Prince

danny2

Write to Prince via:

Maine State Prison – Daniel Fortune – MDOC #86753

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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Desiree Fischer, a med tech at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, wheels a medication cart down the hall on Wednesday. Between 30 and 61 percent of Maine?s 1,774 county jail inmates were prescribed at least one psychiatric medication, according to a survey conducted by the Bangor Daily News in August (Troy R. Bennett | BDN).

STATEWIDE (BDN) — A Maine judge makes the unprecedented decision to forcibly medicate a murder suspect with antipsychotic drugs. A violent, severely mentally ill patient is shipped to state prison after twice attacking staff members at Riverview Psychiatric Center.

Now Gov. Paul LePage, besieged with troubles at Riverview, has plans to send even more violent patients to prison, and proposes to spend millions to convert the prison facility in Windham to house mentally ill inmates.

These headlines point to a much deeper crisis in Maine. After a well-intentioned move decades ago to shift the care of the mentally ill away from psychiatric institutions, many Mainers can’t find adequate care in their communities. They still end up institutionalized but now it’s behind bars.

The ranks of inmates taking psychiatric medications in Maine’s jails and prisons today once would have filled the state’s largest hospitals for the mentally ill.

Between 30 and 61 percent of Maine’s 1,774 county jail inmates were prescribed at least one psychiatric medication, according to a survey conducted by the Bangor Daily News in August. About a third of the 2,223 inmates in state prisons were taking drugs to manage their mental illness. At the Intensive Mental Health Unit at the state prison in Warren, all inmates were medicated at the time of the survey.

The figures are even higher at Maine’s now consolidated youth corrections facility. More than half of all juvenile offenders, or 79 of the 127, took medications. Many of them are at high risk of returning to the prison system as adults, still in need of mental health treatment.

As high as those percentages are, they underrepresent the real population of inmates with mental illness, because the figure is nearly impossible to nail down.

County jail and corrections officials broadly agree that the rising volume of mentally ill patients is untenable. But counting prescriptions offers only a point-in-time snapshot of the problem. It also fails to account for offenders who are undiagnosed or have mental illnesses that don’t require medication, or varying, facility-to-facility policies for dispensing medications.

Inmate advocates also contend that budget cuts have spurred jails and prisons to crack down on taxpayer-funded prescription drugs, leaving some prisoners unmedicated.

Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said many of the people walking through his jail’s doors are undoubtedly experiencing a mental health crisis, whether they have an official diagnosis or not. The need burdens everyone it touches from the sick individual to the law enforcement official apprehending them, from the jail taking custody to the taxpayer picking up the tab.

“There was a day when if a person was on the street yelling and screaming, [police] didn’t know what to do with them, so they were charged with disorderly conduct, end of problem,” Morton said. “But it wasn’t the end of the problem. It was a temporary delay.”

A moving target

After an arrest, inmates typically are asked about their mental health. Most correctional facilities follow National Commission on Correctional Health Care guidelines for initial screenings, which include a questionnaire that asks about current medications and thoughts of suicide.

Jail and prison staff do not make decisions about medical care, including for mental health problems, Morton said. All correctional facilities contract out for those services.

“We are not doctors,” he said.

Screeners review the questionnaire, “triage it, and get them to a provider” if the inmate is on prescription medications when they enter jail, said Geoffrey Archambeau, CEO of Correctional Health Partners, a Denver, Colorado-based company that contracts with the Penobscot County Jail, the Kennebec County Jail and other facilities throughout the country.

If an undiagnosed person is in crisis, they are directed to a medical provider who can prescribe medications, if warranted, according to jail officials from across the state.

“Usually they have committed a crime due to not taking their medication,” Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison said in an email.

One reason the state has no current count of inmates with mental health diagnoses is because “it’s not a searchable thing” since each jail uses a different computer management system, Archambeau said.

“Here’s the problem: Nobody has real numbers,” Morton said.

While the state has one centralized administrative system for all its facilities, called CORIS, it does not allow prison or Department of Corrections officials to query inmates’ mental health records because of medical privacy laws, according to Deputy Commissioner Jody Breton.

Only the department’s contracted medical provider, Correct Care Solutions, can search those records. John Newby, Correct Care regional vice president, found that in 2015, around 48 percent of juveniles and 34 percent of adult inmates were prescribed psych medications.

“For the State of Maine, we are actually below the national averages on prescribing of psychotropic medication,” Newby said in an email to Breton that she forwarded to the Bangor Daily News.

Many inmates diagnosed with mental illness also have developed drug dependency from “self-medicating,” according to Morton.

That often leaves jails serving as their region’s largest detox and mental illness crisis centers, he said.

“My question is: Is that what corrections is supposed to be about?” said Morton, who started as a corrections officer in 1988. “Is that really how we should be treating people with mental illness and substance abuse? To me, this is really an expensive way to do it.”

Cost pressures

Jails and prisons often fail to identify inmates with mental illness, according to an April 2014 report by two Texas doctors. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study examined a nationally representative sample of U.S. prisoners, finding that more than half who were taking medications for mental health conditions upon arrival failed to receive the drugs after incarceration.

“This lack of treatment continuity is partially attributable to screening procedures that do not result in treatment by a medical professional in prison,” the report states. “This treatment discontinuity has the potential to affect both recidivism and health care costs on release from prison.”

Joseph Jackson, who formed the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition upon his release from prison two years ago, says many inmates go without drugs they need or receive “cheaper” substitutes.

When he was arrested for shooting another man in 1995 and locked up in county jail, Jackson was taking medication for depression.

“I was on one treatment going in and they got rid of that,” said Jackson, who was the triggerman in a drug-related slaying in Lewiston on Easter morning 20 years ago that left one man dead. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been on one [prescription] for 20 years and it’s been working well. They say it’s because doctors on the outside are manipulated.”

When he was eventually convicted of manslaughter later that year, Jackson entered the state prison system. Again, his prescription for depression changed.

“They gave me amitriptyline,” Jackson said. “That is how, mostly, they dealt with us. They gave it away back then.”

But today, the cost of medications has changed how correctional facilities dispense them.

“It depends on what those pills cost,” said Jackson, who started a chapter of the NAACP and earned a college degree while behind bars. “They’re going to give you the cheapest pills.”

Providing substitute medications may help county and state pocketbooks, but Jackson describes that approach as an injustice against inmates.

At the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, inmates formerly received psychiatric medications upon request. But in 2011, the jail changed its policy “to only giving the medications when the inmate comes into the jail taking the medications and after being verified,” Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said in a recent email. “Or, when the doctors and/or psychologist believes that the medication is necessary.”

That change saved the jail thousands of dollars per year on medication costs, he said. Other jails have instituted the same policy.

For his part, Archambeau, the medical contractor for the Penobscot County Jail, disputes the contention that cost drives decisions on which drugs are dispensed. PCJ spends about $40,000 a year close to 8 percent of its $525,000 annual medical budget on psychotropic medications.

Yet costs can vary by facility. What jail and prison leaders say they have in common is that they’re doing all they can to accommodate inmates with mental illness.

Capt. Jeff Chute, Androscoggin County Jail administrator, said he has witnessed the transformation of county jails over the years. He started in law enforcement in 1984, joining the jail in 1995.

“We are de facto mental health facilities,” Chute said. “Sometimes we’re there to stabilize them. In order to prevent recidivism, we try to get them back on their meds.”

The costs go beyond prescription drugs, according to Dennison, the Knox County sheriff. When hospitals are full, jail officials pull double duty.

“We have to have a guard sit one-on-one with this person,” Dennison said. “Sad situation all around, not only for mental health folks but also for jails and officers.”

Fewer beds

The housing of Maine’s mentally ill in correctional facilities may be making headlines today, but the problem dates back decades, according to Sharon Sprague, superintendent of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor.

Many of the country’s psychiatric institutions downsized or closed starting in the 1950s, under a process known as deinstitutionalization. States intended to care for psychiatric patients in their local communities, but often failed to set up adequate services.

“When you consider we had 1,200 patients in 1970 and are down to 40 patients today, it says a lot,” Sprague said of Dorothea Dix, which opened in 1901 as the Eastern Maine Insane Hospital. “Our capacity, if we were to fill all the units, is 51. That has been a huge change.”

Riverview opened in 2004, replacing the Augusta Mental Health Institute, which began in 1840 as the Maine Insane Hospital. Riverview has dual roles: to treat violent offenders and to assess those charged with crimes to determine whether they understand the charges and are competent to stand trial.

Among the patients housed there today is Leroy Smith, who made headlines earlier this month after Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Donald Marden issued an order authorizing the state to medicate him for six months against his will in an attempt to restore his competency to stand trial.

Smith was charged on May 6, 2014, with killing and dismembering his father, 56-year-old Leroy Smith II, and initially was found not competent to stand trial. He is now receiving psychotropic medication and will return to court in April.

Meanwhile, Riverview is fighting a 2013 decertification for poor patient care, which resulted in $20 million in forfeited federal Medicaid funding.

LePage has said his plan to modify the Windham prison for mental health patients will help get Riverview recertified.

At its peak, Riverview had a capacity of 1,500.

Today, Maine has just a fraction of that number, with about 270 psychiatric beds statewide. Riverview accounts for 92 and Dorothea Dix has 51. The other 127 beds are split between Acadia Hospital in Bangor, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, and eight community hospitals that all limit patient stays to 30 days.

That’s rarely enough to accommodate the need, experts say, even with Spring Harbor planning to reopen a dozen psychiatric beds after the recent award of $420,000 in state money. Such shortages are a problem in Maine and throughout the country, said Jenna Mehnert, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness in Maine, who came to Maine after working in Pennsylvania and New York.

“There aren’t enough psychiatric beds. And sometimes when officers need to divert a person to the hospital there is no room, and they end up back on the streets in jail or the emergency room,” she said.

Just compare the number of people in mental health institutions back in the 1970s to the populations in homeless shelters today, said Shawn Yardley, Bangor’s former director of health and community services.

“It’s an incredible correlation it’s the same number of people. What we’ve done is move the need for that comprehensive service from mental institutions to homeless shelters, not very successfully and not in the best interest of anybody,” he said.

Changing philosophies

In the past, the philosophy in prisons was to keep inmates with mental illness quiet until they completed their sentence, according to Dr. Dan Bannish, a psychologist at the state prison’s Intensive Mental Health Unit. Now prisons are treating the illness, he said at the unit’s opening in February 2014.

“It’s not a hospital. It’s an intensive mental health unit,” Corrections Commissioner Joe Fitzpatrick said in December. “We really did want this for treatment purposes, not for management purposes. It’s a critical piece and it’s probably the most challenging piece.”

A total of 70 inmates 39 from the Department of Corrections, 29 referred by county jails from across the state, and two from Riverview had been treated in the unit as of the end of January.

The number of suicidal behaviors has dropped considerably and self-abusive incidents among inmates in the program have fallen dramatically, he said.

Maine’s county jails also have made changes.

Aroostook County has a mental health nurse practitioner to screen every inmate’s case, said Sheriff Darrell Crandall.

Penobscot County Jail works with Acadia Hospital, which provides clinical services, including two hours of psychiatric services, each week.

Cumberland County Jail has two social workers and Androscoggin County Jail added a full-time social worker who helps inmates transition back into society in an effort to prevent recidivism, Chute said.

“We had to give up some positions for that,” he said. “It was extremely necessary.”

Chute, Crandall and Morton said law enforcement officers also have learned new ways to deal with people suffering from mental health problems.

The Portland Police Department has developed a specialized behavioral health response program, employing a special liaison who goes out on calls whenever mental illness is identified. The liaison also follows up with patients, conducts referrals and serves as a conduit between the department and behavioral health providers.

Mehnert said other departments should follow Portland’s lead.

“We expect [law enforcement] to be social workers, and it’s really not fair, and when they fail we demonize them,” Mehnert said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine has spent years offering crisis intervention training to law enforcement and emergency responders from all over the state. Every police academy cadet in Maine also goes through that training, along with mental health first aid.

“A lot of this is educating the officers on the street trying to make sure [they can] identify if somebody is in mental health crisis or needs to be incarcerated for a crime,” Mehnert said. “I think that is a crucial thing.”

A smooth transition back into society is key to preventing criminals from reoffending, experts said. But those who are prescribed medication often struggle to pay for their drugs without a job or insurance coverage.

Most jails have transition programs in place, but funding for them often falls short of addressing the multiple factors that affect inmates’ success on the outside, Morton said.

“It’s crucial because if we only set up the mental health part of it, yet they don’t have housing, or they don’t have food or transportation, we’re setting them up for failure,” the Penobscot sheriff said.

“This is not a county jail issue,” Morton said. “It’s a societal issue.”

A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related convictions. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino — evidence of what the ACLU calls “extreme racial disparities.” The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check. We speak with Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher and author of the new ACLU report, “A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses.”

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related crimes. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino—evidence of what the ACLU calls “extreme racial disparities.” The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check.

AMY GOODMAN: Sixty-three percent of those serving life without parole for these nonviolent offenses are in federal prisons. Most were sentenced under mandatory minimum laws. The ACLU says keeping nonviolent offenders behind bars for life is costing taxpayers an additional $1.8 billion. In a minute, we’ll be joined by the author of the study. But first, this is a clip from a video that features family members of some of the more than 600 prisoners it profiles.

SARLOWER SURRY: Everything he did was to hurt himself, not others. And it went from—from one-year sentence to two-year sentence to natural life.

CASHAWNA TILMAN: My dad will never get out for something so little? Natural life.

LORETTA LUMAR: For stealing a $150 jacket. And that $150 jacket got him life in prison.

SARLOWER SURRY: Here in Louisiana, they use that habitual offender law: Three strikes, you automatically get natural life.

CATHERINE MATTHEWS: It’s like giving him a death sentence, because this is no life—no life for a man with his children or his parents or anybody else, once they’re in there.

BURL CAIN: Judge should have the discretion not to give a life sentence. I mean, that’s extreme. You tell that to anybody, they’ll say, “Ah, nah-uh, that’s a little bit too much.” That almost gets to be the point that that’s not what the forefathers envisioned, even with the Constitution. That’s extreme. That’s cruel and unusual punishment, to me.

CASHAWNA TILMAN: He’s a good person, my dad. I mean, he’s always—like I said, he’s always been there for me and my sister and brother. He’s always done his best, until he started abusing the drugs.

CATHERINE MATTHEWS: And a lot of times with Patrick, with the drugs, it came down to not being able to find work.

SARLOWER SURRY: Life sentence is no way to deal with a drug addiction.

EISIBE SNEED: My son wasn’t a menace to society.

DELOICE LEWIS: He would give his shirt off his back.

CATHERINE MATTHEWS: And being so tenderhearted in a place like that, it just doesn’t fit. It’s changed him that way, because I notice he is getting a little colder. I find that he’s not believing and he’s not keeping his faith as much. He’s not—like, he’s like, “I’m about ready to give up on this.”

WILLIE COMBS: Oh, it’s been hard. I go down there and see him. I can’t hardly stand to leave him, but I know I have to go. It be hard. It be hard.

CATHERINE MATTHEWS: To tell him what I ate for Thanksgiving, and he couldn’t eat it, you know, it’s hard. It’s little things like that.

DELOICE LEWIS: And my birthday coming up, and those are days I break.

BURL CAIN: But if this person can go back and be a productive citizen and not commit crimes again, these nonviolent crimes, then why are we keeping him here, spending all this money? Because maybe I’ve done my job, so he should have a parole hearing.

SARLOWER SURRY: There’s too many families that’s suffering out here.

LORETTA LUMAR: Give him a second chance. He’s 54 years old now.

WILLIE COMBS: I’m looking for things to change.

CATHERINE MATTHEWS: Because these boys are just getting wasted away in these prisons for no reason.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s a clip from a video that accompanies the ACLU’s new report, “A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses.” For more, we’re joined by its author, Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Welcome to Democracy Now! I mean, it is just astounding. A man—the story we just heard; another story, a man walks out of a store with a coat slung over his shoulder, $159, gets life in prison without parole.

JENNIFER TURNER: Absolutely. These sentences are grotesquely out of proportion of the crimes that they’re seeking to punish. And we found that 3,278 people are serving life without the possibility of parole for nonviolent crimes, but these numbers actually underrepresent the true state of extreme sentencing in this country. Those numbers don’t account for those who will die in prison because of sentences such as 350 years for a drug sale. It also doesn’t account for the many millions of lives ruined by excessive sentencing in this country, as well.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And especially the impact of federal mandatory minimum sentencings, could you talk about that and the efforts to try to roll back some of those—some of those laws?

JENNIFER TURNER: Yeah, what we found was that over 80 percent of these sentences were mandatory, both in the federal system and in the states. They’re the direct consequence of laws passed over the 40-year war on drugs and tough-on-crime policies that included mandatory minimum sentencing laws, habitual offender laws in the states.

And they tie judges’ hands. And in case after case after case that I reviewed, the judge said from the bench—outraged, would say, “I oppose this sentence as a citizen, as a taxpayer, as a judge. I disagree with the sentence in this case, but my hands are tied.” And one judge said, when sentencing one man to life without parole for selling tiny quantities of crack over a period of just a couple of weeks, he said, “This is a travesty. It’s just silly. But I have no choice.”

AMY GOODMAN: What if a judge said no?

JENNIFER TURNER: The judges can’t say no. In fact, I looked at cases where the judges tried to say no, where the judge tried to find a legal loophole, where prosecutors appealed, repeatedly. One man was sentenced to zero time in prison by a Louisiana judge for threatening a cop while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. He was drunk, threatened him, was sentenced initially to no time. The prosecutor appealed; the sentence increased to 10 years. Prosecutor appealed again. On the third appeal, it was increased to life without parole as a mandatory sentence because of his priors dating back as much as 20 years earlier.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to another case. Another person profiled in your report, in the ACLU report, is Sharanda Jones. She was sentenced to life for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine when she was a 32-year-old mother, with a nine-year-old daughter—no prior arrests. No drugs were found on her, but her supposed co-conspirators testified against her in exchange for reduced sentences. In this clip from the film, The War on Drugs, she talks about being separated from her daughter.

SHARANDA JONES: My sister bring her to visit. And every time she come, it’s hard. I see her like once a month. And to see her grow from a little bitty baby to almost a grown woman now, it’s just like, God, my dream is to just show up at her school. I mean, I know they gave me life, but I can’t imagine not being at her graduation, her high school graduation. I just can’t imagine me not being there.

AMY GOODMAN: Sharanda Jones. Jennifer, tell us more about her case.

JENNIFER TURNER: Well, Sharanda was caught up in a massive drug sweep in a majority white town in Texas. Over a hundred people were arrested, all of whom were black. Chuck Norris participated in some of the arrests. Sharanda had no information to trade for a lenient—a more lenient sentence. And the judge was required to sentence her to life without parole, objected to the sentence, but he had not choice.

AMY GOODMAN: So, they had nothing on her, but—

JENNIFER TURNER: They had nothing but one wiretap. What happened was, a couple had been arrested on drug charges and began cooperating with the feds as confidential informants and, from there, started implicating others in the community. They called Sharanda and said, “Hey, do you know where we can get some drugs?” The wiretap caught Sharanda saying, “Let me see what I can do.” That was the extent of the evidence against her, with the exception of testimony from these confidential informants and other co-conspirators. They never found any drugs on her. There were no even video surveillance of her with drugs. But she was sentenced to life without parole.

A single mother. Her daughter Clenesha has been separated her for many, many, many years. And Sharanda maintains a very close relationship with her daughter. She carefully apportions the 300 minutes she’s allowed to use per month for non-legal calls to call her daughter 10 minutes each day. When I talk to Sharanda on the phone, she’s like, “I’ve got to go! I can’t use up my minutes; I need to speak with my daughter.”

And Sharanda, unfortunately, has no relief available. Her sentence is final, like those of everyone else we were profiling. They have really no chance of relief unless President Obama, in Sharanda’s case, because it’s a federal case, or, in the states, where the governors use their executive clemency powers to reduce their sentence.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you talk about the racial disparities that your report highlights? They’re really amazing. I mean, everyone knows that African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately incarcerated, but in terms of these life-without-parole sentences, the amazing percentage of African Americans, specifically, in states like Louisiana, 91 percent are African-American.

JENNIFER TURNER: The racial disparities are staggering. Obviously, as you said, that blacks are treated disparately throughout the criminal justice system, but what we found was that in life-without-parole sentencing for nonviolent crimes, those disparities are even more marked. Nationwide, 65 percent of people serving these sentences for nonviolent crimes are black; 18 percent are white. In the federal system, blacks are 20 times more likely to be sentenced to life without parole for nonviolent crime. In some states it’s even higher. In Louisiana, where 91 percent of the people serving these sentences are black, they’re 23 times more likely. In the federal system, Latinos are five times more likely to be sentenced to life for nonviolent crime than whites.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the avenue for this to be changed is legislation?

JENNIFER TURNER: There are very clear avenues for change. These sentences are really symptomatic of the larger problem of excessive sentencing in this country. Many, many, many more thousands of people are serving excessive sentences that are disproportionate to their crimes. And they’re all the result of the 40-year war on drugs and tough-on-crime policies, such as mandatory minimums and three-strikes laws. We simply need to repeal the laws that led to these sentences. And with growing national consensus across both sides of the political aisle that mandatory minimum sentences, for instance, are a travesty of justice, this is quite possible. There have been two bipartisan bills introduced in Congress that would somewhat reduce the reach of mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

But also, as I mentioned before, the—President Obama, who has the worst pardon record of any modern president—he has pardoned five turkeys and commuted the sentence of only one prisoner—he does have the power and authority to review the sentences of the over 2,000 people like Sharanda serving life without parole for a nonviolent crime, and he can reduce their sentence. Same with state governors.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And as you note, even if there were changes in the law, these more than 3,000 people that have already been sentenced would not necessarily be affected. It would have to take some executive action by governors or by the president to get some of them—to assure they don’t die in prison, essentially.

JENNIFER TURNER: Absolutely. Some sentencing reforms have been retroactive, and certainly future sentencing reforms could be retroactive, and that’s what we’re calling for. But for many of these people, their only chance at release is some form of clemency. And we have a petition online on our website where you can all take action to call on President Obama to review these sentences and impose a fairer and smarter sentence for these prisoners.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, just to shift gears a bit, about a year ago you came out with a report, “Island of Impunity: Puerto Rico’s Outlaw Police Force.” Explain what’s happening now.

JENNIFER TURNER: Absolutely. In Puerto Rico, I looked at Puerto Rico Police Department because it’s the second largest in the country, second only to NYPD, and because its policing practices are really off the map. We found that the police force uses lethal force at a rate much higher than other police departments—three times the per capita rate of police shootings by the NYPD, for instance; uses excessive force against protesters; brutal beatings of low-income and black Puerto Ricans and Dominican immigrants.

And we sued the police department, called on the Department of Justice to investigate the police department. And just in August, the department was entered into a consent decree with the Justice Department. And two weeks ago, a monitor was appointed to oversee the reform effort and to ensure that the police department actually institutes the reforms that they’ve promised to institute. One week ago, a top New York Police Department officer was appointed superintendent of the police force to start this reform process.

So it’s really the very beginning stages, and we will be watching closely to make sure the police department does follow through on its promise for reforms, which are truly an overhaul of the police force, which is required. The police force is so dysfunctional that it needs to be overhauled at all levels, from basic policies put in place to holding cops accountable when they kill or hurt people, as well as changing the reporting mechanisms. Really, everything has to be reformed in that police department.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennifer Turner, we want to thank you very much for being with us, human rights researcher with the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote the ACLU’s new report, “A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses,” also authored the report, “Island of Impunity: Puerto Rico’s Outlaw Police Force.” We’ll link to both of them at democracynow.org. When we come back, Calle 13 joins us here in studio. Stay with us.

What’s really good?

Things have been kinda hectic  here lately.  Long story short: people don’t realize that “real” muhfuckers live and die behind/over words.  Somebody said something and it had to be dealt with.  The person who said it was not prepared for the level of violence that the words caused.  So their friends stepped in so I stepped in for my man.  It was a bad situation for a while.  God forgive me but the adrenaline made me feel so alive.  Everything seems so much, well, “more: when you’re on that tightrope between life and peace on one side, and bloodshed and pain on the other.

Racial tensions here are sky-high.  I imagine it’s only a matter of time before there’s a race riot.  There is so much ignorance and prejudice here.  There’s prejudice on both sides, but in defense of the brothers, most of the whites they come in contact with are either outright racist or so ignorant of black culture that their comments and actions seem racist.  I have been blessed to have met so many amazing white people that I have been unpleasantly surprised about half the population up here.  Anyway, that’s neither here not there, just the events of the past week have brought it all back into the spotlight.

As I am,

Prince

prince

Write to Danny via:

Maine State Prison – Daniel Fortune – MDOC #86753

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

Christopher Ruhlin, owner of Herbal Tea and Tobacco, is shown in the smoking parlor of the Bangor shop.

The man who ran a downtown Bangor smoking lounge for medical marijuana users was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a year and a day in federal prison.

Terrence Sawtelle admitted to conspiring with Christopher Ruhlin, the owner of Herbal Tea & Tobacco, to illegally sell marijuana from a dispensary that was not licensed by the state. Sawtelle rented space from Ruhlin and operated 13 Owl’s Club as a hookah lounge for about two years beginning in 2014, according to court documents.

Herbal Tea & Tobacco still operates at 44 Main St. and on Hogan Road in Bangor. The smoking lounge is closed.

Sawtelle, 49, of Bangor and Ruhlin, 49, of Holden pleaded guilty last year to drug conspiracy charges. Ruhlin also pleaded guilty to one count of structuring, or trying to hide cash deposits from bank regulators.

[Bangor head shop owner pleads guilty to pot-growing scheme]

Ruhlin is to be sentenced Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Bangor.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy said at Sawtelle’s sentencing that the pair not only broke federal law but also did not abide by Maine’s medical marijuana statutes. The rules allow medical marijuana caregivers to grow pot for five people who have the proper paperwork.

Ruhlin and Sawtelle had four patients on the books but used the fifth position as a “floater,” court documents said. The fifth person came to the lounge, immediately became a patient, but once the person left, he or she was no longer considered a patient, and another customer would become the fifth patient.

The pair did not sell marijuana to people who did not have medical marijuana cards but the business was not licensed as a dispensary, according to court documents. In July and August 2016, an undercover confidential informant made three separate purchases of marijuana without the proper paperwork.

At his sentencing, Sawtelle said he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions.

“My foolishness was trusting someone who was not an attorney about the legalities” of dispensing medical marijuana, he told the judge.

[Feds charge owner of Bangor head shop with growing, selling pot]

Sawtelle’s attorney, Charles Hodsdon of Bangor, described his client as a “true believer in the medicinal value of marijuana.” He said that Sawtelle and Ruhlin were lifelong friends when the two decided to open the smoking lounge.

Sawtelle purchased marijuana from Ruhlin and other illegal suppliers. Levy said that an average of a quarter pound of pot per day was sold from the smoking lounge. When the 13 Owl’s Club was raided in August 2016, three pounds of processed marijuana was seized, the judge said Tuesday.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Sawtelle faced between 18 and 24 months in federal prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey recommended Sawtelle be sentenced to 18 months in prison. Hodsdon urged the judge to impose a sentence of probation and community service.

In addition to prison time, Levy sentenced Sawtelle to three years of supervised release. By sentencing Sawtelle to a year and a day, he will be able to earn time off his sentence for good behavior. The judge ordered Sawtelle to report to prison March 14.

Three other men who grew marijuana for Ruhlin in Frankfort were sentenced in the case last year after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy charges.

Nicholas Reynolds, 34, of Bangor is serving a six-month sentence to be followed by three years of supervised release. The first six months of his supervised release must be spent in home confinement. He is incarcerated at the federal correctional institute in Berlin, New Hampshire, and is due to be released April 22.

Jeremy Duguay, 35, of Bangor was sentenced last year to two years of probation for his limited role in the operation.

Reynolds and James Mansfield operated an indoor pot farm in a Frankfort warehouse that produced between 5 and 6 pounds of marijuana per month that was sold through the smoking lounge.

Mansfield, 34, of Etna was sentenced last June to a year and a day in prison for his role in the conspiracy. He is incarcerated at a federal facility in Devens, Massachusetts. He is due to be released June 21.

Reynolds and Mansfield grew marijuana at the Frankfort warehouse — a larger, sophisticated indoor grow facility — from October 2010 to August 2016. The warehouse was leased to Ruhlin between December 2010 and November 2013. Ruhlin left the conspiracy in 2014, but sold marijuana grown there by others between May 2014 and Aug. 25, 2016, according to court documents.

In May 2016, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at the facility and recovered about 400 marijuana plants, 295 marijuana root balls, and paraphernalia used to manufacture and process marijuana.

The operation would have been illegal under state laws governing medical marijuana.

The maximum sentence on the drug conspiracy charge is 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

Kenneth McDonald

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

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

Kenny got sentenced to 30 years.


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

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

Dirty received 12 years.  


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

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


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

Arline was sentenced to thirty-five years.


danny.2014

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

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

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

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


 

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

– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

Get it?

Robin Rage

 

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Advise from Murderers and Lifers imprisoned in the State of Maine!

True Believers:

A while ago we sent all of the prisoners we communicate with three requests for advice gathered from various advice columns.  We received advice back from Daniel ‘Prince’ Fortune (M.S.P./serving two life sentences for home invasion,)Michael ‘Dirty’ McQuade (M.S.P./ serving 12 years for murder,) and Arline Lawless (M.C.C./serving 35 years for murder.)

As a counterpoint, we also requested and received advice from two of our law-abiding citizens, Maine writer and educator Kate Miller, and her cohort Peaceful, Maine mystic and holistic life coach (Peaceful also comments on the responses from our inmates.)

Ready?  Here we go:

Problem 1:

I work part-time in a small sales office of about 10 people. About a month ago, one of my coworkers approached me about doing a project for his graduate program at a local university. It was for some sort of anatomy textbook or similar: it would be a photo of my breasts with my face not in the photo for the textbook. I would be compensated for the photos.

There were some red flags in his proposition — the photos would be taken by him, in my home, and he never presented me with official paperwork about it. I called the university and they assured me that whatever “project” he was working on was not through their university, as there would have been extensive paperwork, screening, photos professionally taken, etc., which was what I had figured in the first place, particularly for such a large university and for a master’s program.  My question is this: Is this a matter that I should bring up to my boss? Is this something that she needs to know about?

Sincerely, A.


Killer Advice

Danny Fortune:

Dear A,

First of all my deepest apologies that you had to deal with an incident like this. Especially at work. Yes, I believe that this is a matter you should bring to your boss’s attention. I say this for several reasons. First, from what you said, he approached you at work so it is a workplace issue. Now, sexual assault, abuse and harassment – the workplace should be an area of your life where you do not have to worry about any kind of sexual misconduct. You should be able to have a conversation with your boss concerning this individual. As he said it was for a “public” textbook, he should have no problem with it being discussed in public.

I would also like to commend you for trusting your intuition and doing due diligence; because of his scheme – saying it was for school when the school had no idea – he crossed lines and the fact that he wanted to do it at your home moved him into predator status. His behavior is not okay. I understand that you might not want to make waves at work but what he did is beyond inappropriate; it is borderline if not outright criminal. While you might not have fallen for it who knows how many others have or will. Tell your boss.

[Comment by Peaceful: “That’s more or less what I said.”]

Michael McQuade:

Dear A,

It’s too bad you can’t set up a photo shoot that he shows up at to find an overweight, middle-aged gay man setting up to photograph his genitals for a “textbook.” You could later explain there was a big misunderstanding. As for going to the boss, I guess it depends on the degree of creepiness he’s emitting. Definitely keep an eye on this guy at the least. Chances are he’ll try it again with another attractive co-corker (or something just as weird.) If the situation arises again then go to the boss with both stories. If he’s obviously a degenerate that no one likes, go to the boss. Present dates, times, places, witnesses. Document everything. Get him on video and post it. Creepy people suck.

[Comment:by Peaceful: “Umm.. I don’t know. I’ll have to ponder on that one for a while.”]

Arline Lawless:

Dear A,

This could’ve been his way of telling you that he likes you but didn’t have the guts to come right out and say it. I know that this is a bit of an extreme way to say it but, you know how people can get sometimes. It also could’ve also been a tip that he is just a bit of an odd duck that might need to go to sex anonymous. If this is something that he kept on harping you about repeatedly then yes, you should definitely bring it up to your boss. But if he just lets it go after one time of asking, what is the sense of ruining someone’s career, just because he might no have known how to tell you that he liked you? But, if you hear from another co-worker that he did something similar to them then, yes, you should definitely inform your boss about this. You could be working with someone that is a sexual predator or who knows, maybe worse.

[Comment by Peaceful: “That was unique because she realizes that some men don’t know how to relate to women very well.”]


Kate and Peaceful

Kate Miller:

Dear A,

I am so glad you called the University and asked if this was legitimate. Smart move.

If you ever question that something seems off or you feel in your gut that something is wrong it is always a good policy to check it out with a reliable source. I am not sure of your relationship with this coworker.  I would first go to the coworker and confront him with the seriousness of what he has done. I would tell him that you checked with the University and found out that what he wanted you to do was not sanctioned by them. I would let him know that this is considered sexual harassment and if you hear of any more of this nonsense from him that you will immediately report him to his boss. I am not sure of your relationship with him. If you feel uncomfortable in any way with him I would tell your boss and not wait.

Trust your gut. – Kate

Peaceful:

Dear A,

I would tell your boss because he is liable to do it to someone else in the future. – Peaceful


Problem 2. “Do I Have To Tell The Daughter I Abandoned At Birth That I Trash-Talked Her Late Mom For Years?

When I was about 20, I got my girlfriend pregnant. She was 23 and wanted the baby whereas I was not ready to be a father, so she broke up with me and had the baby pretty much on her own. Her family helped her and she didn’t ask me for child support until I graduated college and had a steady job. Still, it was a burden on my entry-level salary and I resented both her and my daughter, so I wasn’t an involved father. To explain myself to my family and others who knew I had a daughter I hardly saw, I made up stories about how horrible and crazy my ex was and how it was all her fault…

My ex contacted me last year to let me know she had a terminal illness. As a new father to a year-old son, I saw I couldn’t let my 18-year-old daughter, “Lynn,” go through that alone, so I reconnected with her, made peace with my ex and have been trying to make amends.  Lynn naturally resents and distrusts me, but she is slowly becoming a part of my life. The problem is that my wife, my parents and my friends think the worst of her late mother…

Must I confess, or can I just make it up to Lynn by being the best dad I can now? The truth could really ruin our fragile relationship.

Signed “Bad Dad.”


Killer Advice

Danny Fortune:

Dear Bad Dad,

First off if you do not tell the truth there is no way you can be the best dad you can be. There is no way you can avoid telling your daughter. She is going to find out and you need it to be from you or your relationship will be over. You need to step up to the plate; you have run from responsibility for 18 years. Do not continue. Your actions have been completely about you and here is a chance to change that.

You ex has done nothing to you; she got you off the hook when you didn’t want the job of a father. Apparently you were grown enough to conceive a child, but not enough to raise one. She was kind enough to wait until you were done with college for child support. That says so much about her character. To which you showed your character by resenting that your child had to eat and wear clothes; you showed her how much she meant to you by being an absentee father and to top it off, instead of just staying out of her life, you lied to your family about her mother. There is no way that Lynn will not hear one or more of your “stories,” about how horrible and crazy your ex, her mother was. What do you think will happen when she hears how you lied to save face?

She doesn’t need a friend, she needs a father who shows her what it means to admit mistakes or bad choices, just like anybody. It is infinitely harder and thus infinitely more important to do so when your actions have caused pain. You have absolutely nothing to gain from not telling her the truth, and everything to lose. So Bad Dad, show her what it means to be human – to fail, make mistakes and bad choices, and to own them to become better than we were in the past, because those are the lessons she needs from her father.

[Comment by Peaceful: “I don’t see it that way. because some people they haven’t reached a play where they judge you where you are now.”]

Michael McQuade:

Dear Bad Dad,

From one bad dad to another I think it’s best to cover it up for now. Tell all your family to not mention all the trash talk out of respect for the deceased. And for the sake of your daughter. Do everything within your power to be the best dad that you can be to this kid. You owe her mother and her at least that. If at some point in the future your daughter approaches you and wants to know, tell her the truth. You were young and you were and asshole and you’ve spent every moment since trying to make amends for your mistakes. From there it’s up to her. Good luck!

[Comment by Peaceful: “That was interesting. That means you’ve got to be careful. You don’t wanna mess up the relationship before your daughter has a chance to realize where you are right now.”]

Arline Lawless:

Dear Bad Dad,

Yes, you should clear your conscience. You don’t want any of your family thinking ill of someone that has passed on, especially when they did nothing. That guilt will eat you up, knowing that you were the one making up everything about your innocent ex-girlfriend. Just because you weren’t ready to accept the responsibilities of being a father doesn’t mean that you need to sully someone else’s name along with it. You needed to learn how to accept that you helped make that child and you weren’t ready to be a father. Also, your ex-girlfriend raised your child on her own and didn’t ask you for a dime until you graduated college and had a steady job. You shouldn’t have had resented either one – your ex or your daughter. You helped create the child. She didn’t ask to be created. Children don’t ask to be born.

You should tell your family the truth about you not being ready to be a father and that you panicked and didn’t want your family to think any less of you. Which in any case, blood is thicker than water. they would’ve understood and if they didn’t then they have issues of their own. If they really cared about you then they would’ve tried to help you with this crisis that was detrimental to you to begin with.

You also are making a good step towards making it up to your ex by trying to be there for “Lynn,” even though she is now 18. You should tell her the truth about the whole situation also. She is a part of you. The way I have always seen it is, “I would rather hurt your feelings with the truth, then lose you with a lie.” I am sure she will understand, and if she can’t forgive you than at least you will know that you have a clean conscience, and you will have repaired the damage that you had caused to your ex so she can rest easy now.

[Comment by Peaceful: “if you’re in too much of a hurry to clear your conscience, and your daughter can’t relate to you in the present, you’re screwed.”]


Kate and Peaceful

Kate Miller:

Dear Bad Dad,

Sorry for your loss. It is never easy to go through situations like the one you are in.

Your daughter deserves to know you and it will be so helpful for her to reconnect with her father in a time like this. She needs you to be a real caring dad and to be involved in her life.  I would explain to your daughter why you could not stay in the relationship with her mother. I would only tell her positive things about her and if something comes up that gives reference to the negative…Be honest and explain it to her. She is 18 and is hopefully able to understand. She does not need to know about all your past trash talk of her mother. That would not help her or your relationship with her. You are now a more mature man.

No guilt, move on and just be honest and love your daughter in the present. – Kate

Peaceful:

Dear Bad Dad,

There are times in which we do not know what to do or say. Pray for guidance and follow it if we get an answer. It would help if you knew whether or not your daughter judged people as they are now or judged people from their past mistakes. – Peaceful

Problem 3. “Should I Tell My Friends I Think Their 5-Year-Old Son Is Going To Be A Rapist When He Grows Up?

My friends have a son, about 5 years old. They enforce little (if any) discipline on him, and he throws a hissy fit if they try to “make” him do anything. They tell him to pick up something he threw; he ignores them. Dad picks it up in a couple of minutes. They tell him to go to bed; he ignores them and keeps doing whatever he is into. My fear is that they are teaching him that he can get away with anything by ignoring the rules. Specifically, I am concerned that he will never learn that no means no, i.e., that they are raising a rapist. Should I say anything to them? If I do, it would only be once, and I wouldn’t harp on it. They are NOT people who would be okay with this outcome, and/but I don’t want to stomp on my relationship with them either.

Signed “Watching”


Killer Advice

Danny Fortune:

Dear Watching,

I believe that you are painting the boy in the worst way possible. I do not believe that there is a sure-fire way to tell what a five-year-old child will grow up to be. Yes, they are definitely spoiling their child and it will most likely be to his detriment; being spoiled is not a condition that is easy to carry through life. Life is a great equalizer as well, though, and it looks like this little boy will have some hard lessons about listening to others and especially with those in authority. At face it seems likely that he does not have much experience in having to obey anyone but his parents. His attitude will not be conducive to his success, but to be honest, I think that you are beyond your place in this situation. You are talking about a little boy and worrying that he will be a rapist.

Do you have children? Do they listen to everything you say, and do they obey at the same time and follow your all your rules and guidelines? Are you seeing the worst in them? No, you should not tell your friends that you are worried their son will grow up to be a rapist. A am fairly confidant that would be the end of your relationship; it would certainly “stomp” your relationship with them. However you should mention that you have noticed that their son seems to not listen. Ask them if you can help in anyway, i.e. books, therapists, a shoulder to lean on.

Parenting is beyond hard and and having someone criticize or offer advice on your parenting is a very touchy subject. I would advise you to say nothing because it is not your child or your house. But, if you feel the need to interject yourself into another’s familiar matter, avoid any and all mention of what you think their son will be. Ask about his willfulness and how it effects them, and if you can help. They need it.

[Comment by Peaceful: “Yeah, I agree with that.”]

Michael McQuade:

Dear Watching,

Stop watching! You’re reading way too far into this. The kid’s five for Christ’s sake. When I was eleven my mother had a friend and her daughter came to stay with us. I saw that child do shit that would make the Antichrist take notes. I thought for sure she would grow up to face charges of genocide or some other biblical atrocity. She’s married and she’s a doctor now. She’s doing great. Life is so unfair (Ha, Ha!) As for “Rapist?” that’s a stretch for a five year old. When’s the last time you say crying, screaming and tantrums used in rape? If he’s quiet, introverted, and torturing and killing small animals… then worry. I think that at worst they may be raising an asshole. But he’s their little asshole, not yours. It’s their prerogative. You probably have bigger things to worry about then your friends’ spoiled brat.

[Comment by Peaceful: I have experience with my grandson, who has a hard time dealing with adults, but I’m not concerned.]

Arline Lawless:

Dear Watching,

Your concerns are good ones. I can see why you might not want to stomp on your relationship with your friends. But, you also have to think about them and others first. Hard concept, isn’t it, putting others first? How would you feel if fifteen years down the road this exact fear you had about their five-year-old son becoming a rapist comes true? Would you want that guilt on your hands all because you didn’t want to stomp on your relationship with your friends? If they really are your friends and can see your point (that you are laying out to them in a logical and level headed way) then they shouldn’t have a reason to want to have to put a “stomp” in your friend-relationship. They should see that you are just a friend that is just concerned for their son’s future well-being.
[Comment by Peaceful: “That is really interesting.”]


Kate and Peaceful

Kate Miller:

Dear Watching,

It is frustrating to observe people we love doing things we do not understand or agree with. You have observed your friend’s son being disrespectful and non-compliant and you have seen your friends not responding to what you think to be a right response. Have you expressed to your friends how  the situation makes you feel ? I do not think that you should tell them that you worry about him being a rapist. Tell them that it makes you uncomfortable, worried or sad etc to see the disrespect. Parents ultimately have the responsibility for their child and unless they are abusive to the child, you really have no say.  If they ask for advise please give them suggestions that would be helpful.  Pray for them.  You could recommend books or articles on child rearing. Please do not tell them you worry the child will become a rapist. I have seen many a spoiled child in my life and they have turned out ok. 

Abuse is more likely a cause of criminal behavior. – Kate

Peaceful:

Dear Watching,

There are many books on appropriate child raising. Many are available at the library. You could check one out and let your friends borrow it for a few days.That might help. – Peaceful


We’re really interested in what everyone thinks – about the variety of solutions, disparity of the sentences, or anything else.  This is just our first installment of what we hope to be many, and we’re always looking for problems to pose to the convicts (as well as Kate and Peaceful.)  Send any questions you’d like to be considered to otis.porkmeyer@gmail.com.  Irregardless, we’ll get back to you.

Be well!

Otis

[Killer Advice logos by Alyssa Joy Bartlett, 2019]

Read the rest of this entry »

Presentation of the first edition of “Killer Advice” has been moved from Wednesday to Thursday, January 24th.  This unfortunate, but short delay is due to some technical trumps with one of our citizen collaborators.  

It’s worth the wait.

Thanks again, and sorry about the trump in the applesauce.

R.

True Believers:

A while ago we sent all of the prisoners we communicate with three requests for advice gathered from various advice columns.  We received advice back from Daniel ‘Prince’ Fortune (M.S.P./serving two life sentences for home invasion,) Michael ‘Dirty’ McQuade (M.S.P./ serving 12 years for murder,) and Arline Lawless (M.C.C./serving 35 years for murder) and we’ll post their responses this Wednesday.

Here are the requests for advice as the prisoners received them:

Problem 1: My Coworker Asked Me To Pose Topless ‘For An Anatomy Textbook’?

I work part-time in a small sales office of about 10 people. About a month ago, one of my coworkers approached me about doing a project for his graduate program at a local university. It was for some sort of anatomy textbook or similar: it would be a photo of my breasts with my face not in the photo for the textbook. I would be compensated for the photos.

There were some red flags in his proposition — the photos would be taken by him, in my home, and he never presented me with official paperwork about it. I called the university and they assured me that whatever “project” he was working on was not through their university, as there would have been extensive paperwork, screening, photos professionally taken, etc., which was what I had figured in the first place, particularly for such a large university and for a master’s program.  My question is this: Is this a matter that I should bring up to my boss? Is this something that she needs to know about?

Sincerely, A.

Problem 2. Do I Have To Tell The Daughter I Abandoned At Birth That I Trash-Talked Her Late Mom For Years?

When I was about 20, I got my girlfriend pregnant. She was 23 and wanted the baby whereas I was not ready to be a father, so she broke up with me and had the baby pretty much on her own. Her family helped her and she didn’t ask me for child support until I graduated college and had a steady job. Still, it was a burden on my entry-level salary and I resented both her and my daughter, so I wasn’t an involved father. To explain myself to my family and others who knew I had a daughter I hardly saw, I made up stories about how horrible and crazy my ex was and how it was all her fault…

My ex contacted me last year to let me know she had a terminal illness. As a new father to a year-old son, I saw I couldn’t let my 18-year-old daughter, “Lynn,” go through that alone, so I reconnected with her, made peace with my ex and have been trying to make amends.  Lynn naturally resents and distrusts me, but she is slowly becoming a part of my life. The problem is that my wife, my parents and my friends think the worst of her late mother…

Must I confess, or can I just make it up to Lynn by being the best dad I can now? The truth could really ruin our fragile relationship.

Signed “Bad Dad.”

Problem 3. Should I Tell My Friends I Think Their 5-Year-Old Son Is Going To Be A Rapist When He Grows Up?

My friends have a son, about 5 years old. They enforce little (if any) discipline on him, and he throws a hissy fit if they try to “make” him do anything. They tell him to pick up something he threw; he ignores them. Dad picks it up in a couple of minutes. They tell him to go to bed; he ignores them and keeps doing whatever he is into. My fear is that they are teaching him that he can get away with anything by ignoring the rules. Specifically, I am concerned that he will never learn that no means no, i.e., that they are raising a rapist. Should I say anything to them? If I do, it would only be once, and I wouldn’t harp on it. They are NOT people who would be okay with this outcome, and/but I don’t want to stomp on my relationship with them either.

Signed “Watching”

You’ll be completely surprised by the advice we received back, and the difference sorts of advice applied to the same problem by each inmate.  We’re going to try to get Fuzzy Bear and Sarah to give their non-prison advice, but once we’ve posted the inmate responses, we encourage you to submit your advice as well.

Or a situation that you might like to get killer advice on.

Tune in on Wednesday, and be well!

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[Image: “Killer Advice #2,” by Alyssa Joy Bartlett, 2019]

Couple indicted in Augusta man’s murder

Zina Fritz and Michael Sean McQuade lived in apartment where killing occurred

An Augusta couple has been charged with murder in connection with the drug-related death of a man last November.

Zina Fritz, 27, and her boyfriend, Michael Sean McQuade, 45, were both indicted on murder charges stemming from the death of Joseph Marceau, 31, of Augusta, on Nov. 23, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Fritz and McQuade lived in the apartment at 75 Washington St., Augusta, where Marceau’s body was found.

Investigators have not disclosed how Marceau died but have said the death was drug-related.

Augusta police arrested the couple on unrelated charges last week. They were told of the indictment against them Monday, McCausland said.

A third person, Damik Davis of New York, was arrested on a murder charge the day Marceau’s body was discovered.

Police went to the apartment after receiving a report of a disturbance.

Fritz and McQuade are expected to make their first court appearance Tuesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

 

Augusta couple pleads not guilty to murder, robbery

Dirty

AUGUSTA, Maine — An Augusta man and woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder, felony murder and robbery in the Nov. 23 death of an Augusta man.

Zina Marie Fritze, 27, and her boyfriend, Michael Sean McQuade, 45, were indicted last week by a Kennebec County grand jury on charges of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder, felony murder and robbery.

Tuesday’s appearance at the Augusta Judicial Center was their first since the indictments.

Felony murder is a crime for which someone is charged when they are alleged to have caused the death of someone while committing murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, gross sexual assault or escape.

Both will remain in jail without bail pending February hearings, Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings determined.

Another man, Damik Davis, 25, of Queens, New York, was arrested and charged with murder the day Joseph Marceau’s body was found. Davis remains in at Kennebec County Jail.

The body of Marceau of 23 Winthrop St., Augusta, was found Nov. 23, 2015, in a fourth-floor apartment rented by Fritze and McQuade at 75 State St., in Augusta.

Police have called the death a drug-related homicide, but Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, who is prosecuting the case, said following the arraignment that the felony murder charge results from the allegation of robbery and that neither Fritze nor McQuade are charged with any drug-related crimes.

Alsop said no decision has yet been made about whether to seek to join the two cases.

Immediately following Davis’ arrest, police began searching for Fritze and McQuade. They were were located, questioned and released by police two days after the homicide.

However, they were arrested by Augusta police Friday on unrelated charges and have been held in jail since then. The felony indictments were announced Monday.

Fritze’s attorney, Darrick Banda, declined to comment on the current charges, having just been assigned the case Monday. Attorney Andrew Dawson, who represents McQuade on lesser charges of theft, appeared Tuesday with McQuade, but another attorney will be appointed to represent him on the murder charges, Billings said.

Augusta murder suspect dies after being found hanging in jail cell

Zina Fritz, 27, charged with murder stemming from death of Joseph Marceau

Zina Fritz, 27, who was charged with murder stemming from the death of Joseph Marceau, 31, of Augusta, on Nov. 23, died Wednesday, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.Fritz was found hanging by a bed sheet in her Kennebec County Jail cell Wednesday afternoon, McCausland said.

She was taken to MaineGeneral in Augusta, but died in the ambulance.

Fritz’s death will be investigated by Maine State Police and the attorney general’s officer per state protocol, McCausland said.

Fritz and her boyfriend, Michael Sean McQuade, 45, lived in the apartment at 75 Washington St., Augusta, where Marceau’s body was found.

Fritz and McQuade pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday and were ordered held without bail.

 

Michael Sean McQuade, defendant in Augusta murder, facing burglary, theft charges

Michael Sean McQuade, 45, of Augusta, was charged Friday by a grand jury in Kennebec County with two counts of burglary, six counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, and eight counts of theft by unauthorized taking, all between May 1, 2015, and Nov. 10, 2015, and all in Augusta.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it indicates that there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

McQuade pleaded not guilty Jan. 26, 2016, to the prior indictment charging him with murder, felony murder and robbery, in what police say was a drug-related crime.

McQuade’s girlfriend, Zina Marie Fritze, 27, who also was indicted on the murder and robbery charges, committed suicide in jail on Jan. 27, 2016, after she too pleaded not guilty to those offenses.

Marceau was found beaten to death Nov. 23, 2015, in the Washington Street apartment that had been occupied by McQuade and Fritze. Another man, Damik Davis, 26, of Queens, New York, who was arrested shortly after Marceau’s body was found, also pleaded not guilty to murder in three separate forms — intentional or knowing or depraved indifference — as well as felony murder, murder, and robbery, all related to Marceau’s death.

Two men to be sentenced Monday in beating death of Augusta man

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Damik ‘Doughboy’ Davis and Michael ‘Dirty’ Sean McQuade both blamed a third man, Aubrey Armstrong, for the killing of Joseph Marceau.

AUGUSTA — Two more men are to be sentenced Monday in the Nov. 23, 2015, drug-related bludgeoning death of Joseph Marceau, 31, of Augusta.

The hearing is set for 1 p.m. at the Capital Judicial Center.

Damik “Doughboy” Davis, 28, of Queens, New York, and Michael “Dirty” Sean McQuade, 47, of Augusta, pleaded guilty 11 months ago to felony murder and robbery in the Augusta killing and signed agreements with the state that spelled out their sentencing parameters.

The agreements said they would cooperate with prosecution of others in the case.

A third man, Aubrey Armstrong, 29, of Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, was sentenced on July 13 to 30 years in prison for felony murder and a concurrent 29 years for the robbery.

Under Maine law, a person is guilty of felony murder if he or she commits or attempts to commit a felony – murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, gross sexual assault, or escape – and this causes the death of another person.

Justice Daniel Billings said there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Armstrong personally of carrying out the murder.

It is not clear who administered the fatal blows to 31-year-old Marceau in the trash-strewn, fourth-floor apartment on Washington Street from which McQuade and his girlfriend Zina Fritze had been evicted. Fritze committed suicide in jail a day after pleading not guilty to the murder charge.

Davis and McQuade blamed Armstrong for the fatal beating. Armstrong did not testify at his trial.

Billings unsealed the two cooperation agreements Friday. The agreements, signed Aug. 22, 2017, say that the murder charges against Davis and McQuade will be dismissed when they are sentenced on the felony murder and robbery charges.

Davis agreed to a sentence of 30 years – 10 years suspended. He was not called to testify at Armstrong’s trial.

McQuade, who testified at Armstrong’s trial and said he saw Armstrong beat Marceau to death, agreed to a sentence of 25 years, with 10-15 years suspended.

McQuade also is to be sentenced on a series of burglary, theft and burglary of a motor vehicle charges to which he previously pleaded no contest.

McQuade testified that Armstrong wanted to rob Marceau of 5 grams of heroin and that McQuade and Fritze accompanied Davis, Armstrong and Marceau to the apartment.

He said he saw Marceau standing with his back to the entry door and Armstrong and Davis facing him.

“Immediately a milk bottle came smashing down across Joe’s head,” McQuade testified. “It was like a nanosecond, then Doughboy came smashing down with a chair across his head.”

McQuade said during the first 10 seconds Marceau hollered for them to “just take it,” meaning the drugs, but the beating didn’t stop.

 

Two more men sentenced in 2015 murder case

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) – Two more men were sentenced Monday for their involvement in the 2015 murder of Joseph Marceau

.Michael “Dirty” Sean McQuade received 12 years in jail for his guilty plea of felony murder and robbery.

Damik “Doughboy” Davis got 20 years behind bars on the same charges.

The sentences were reduced due to cooperation in the investigation from both individuals.

Maine Assistant Attorney General John Alsop says there were no surprises, as they reached deals beforehand.

“Both cases – these outcomes were something that we agreed upon some time ago,” says Alsop. “Both of these gentlemen agreed to cooperate and testify against Mr. Armstrong.”

The defense teams were also satisfied with the deals reached.

“I think that Michael McQuade realized that this is a terrible tragedy and has taken responsibility for that, so I think it’s been good that there’s been closure for both him and the family,” says Andrew Wright, McQuade’s defense attorney.

“Mr. Davis received a 20 year sentence,” says Stephen Smith, Davis’ defense attorney. “We’re pleased with the outcome. It was a negotiated outcome.”

Aubrey Armstrong was given 30 years in jail earlier this month for his role in the murder.

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