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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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

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

Please join us at our next MPAC Statewide Strategy Meeting

Saturday, April 11, 2020 . 10 a.m. – noon
Harbor Peer & Wellness, 35 School St, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04358
 

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“I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children & your children’s children & generations yet unborn we’ve got to guard this moment. This is our watch.” – Elijah Cummings
imageOn Feb 13, 2020, at 4:12 PM, Peter Lehman <peter.growinme@gmail.com> wrote:
I just learned that a public hearing on LD 1421, An Act To Amend the Maine Bail Code, sponsored by Rep. Talbot Ross is scheduled for this coming Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 1:05 pm in the Judiciary Committee at the State House. I’ve attached to this email the language that is being proposed to replace the current bill.
 
The key things that this bill does:
  • Eliminates the ability for judicial officers to impose cash bail on people arrested and charged with most Class E crimes (certain DV-related crimes are still going to have cash bail)
  • Eliminates the ability for judicial officers to impose bail conditions that allow police to randomly search people for drugs or alcohol if they’ve been given the bail condition that they not possess or use drugs/alcohol
  • Requires judicial officers to consider, when deciding whether to give bail and what kind of bail to give, whether a defendant is a primary caregiver to another person, whether a defendant is receiving health care treatment (including mental health care) outside of jail or whether that treatment would be better provided outside of jail, and whether a person could lose their job if they don’t get out on bail.
I know it’s really short notice, but for those who can’t make it and would like to submit testimony, the website to do that is here. On the pull-down menu, you would select Judiciary Committee, then select February 18, 1:05pm, and then click on LD 1421.
 
For guidelines and other information about testifying, see my previous emails. 
 
Thanks to Meagan Sway of ACLU Maine for this valuable information. 
 
Yours in Love and Service, 
 
Peter Lehman
Legislative Coordinator
Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition
Thomaston, Maine
(207) 542-1496
Committed to ethical, positive, and humane changes in Maine’s prison system

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.


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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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Write to Prince via:
Maine State Prison – Daniel Fortune – MDOC #86753
807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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Dirty

Write to Dirty via:
Maine State Prison – Michael McQuade – MDOC #82448
807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

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Daniel ‘Prince’ Fortune

Write to Prince via:

Maine State Prison – Daniel Fortune – MDOC #86753

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

How’s Circle? It’s always good to hear from y’all.

These last couple of months have been hard. I lost everything that I had worked for in one hour. I’m starting over at the bottom It’s been a crazy couple months. The Warden came down to see me. He told me that if I didn’t behave I was getting in a lot of trouble. They (I.P.S.) had been fucking with me for 2+ years, with no write-ups or charges. I was removed from the L.T.R. Board, placed in a disciplinary pod. I can’t go to Rec. It’s crazy. They kept treating me like I was acting up, so I started acting up. The Warden noticed and we had a hard talk. Now I’m starting from the bottom, but I’m in a way better place mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I had lost my way but I’m better now.

I want y’all to be better, because I’m doing better.

As I am,

Love,

Your brother, Prince.

danny2

Write to Danny via:

Maine State Prison – Daniel Fortune – MDOC #86753

807 Cushing Road – Warren, Maine 04864-4600

George W. Bush DUI Arrest Record

Bush Drunk Driving Summary

This is the 1976 Maine police document recording the arrest of George W. Bushfor driving under the influence of alcohol.

Bush, who was 30 at the time, was popped over the Labor Day weekend near his family’s Kennebunkport summer home. Bush pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor DUI charge, paid a $150 fine, and had his driving privileges briefly revoked in the state of Maine.

The arrest record card was released November 2 by Kennebunkport police. The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles also released this summary of Bush’s DUI conviction. (2 pages)

Not to be outdone, Dick Cheney has two drunk driving busts on his record.

Yes, we’ve all got questions about George W. Bush’s 1976 drunk driving arrest. But the Bush campaign isn’t really answering them (at least not yet), while the silence of the Gore campaign is deafening. So we’ve decided to cut through the spin and go behind the scenes for a few technical pointers on Maine driving laws. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about drunk driving arrests (or have at least wondered about in the past 24 hours).

What’s the difference between a DWI, a DUI and an OUI?

There’s absolutely no difference. Maine happens to use the term “Operating Under the Influence,” or OUI, but other states use DUI or DWI. They all mean the same thing.

Is drunk driving a felony or misdemeanor in Maine?

These days, your fourth OUI conviction in a 10-year period is considered a felony. Back in 1976, drunk driving was considered a misdemeanor into infinity — unless there was an accident, which could elevate the charge.

What was the penalty for an OUI arrest in 1976?

George W. Bush paid a $150 fine and his license was suspended for 30 days. Because Bush carried an out-of-state driver’s license (his address was recorded as Midland, Tex.), the suspension carried weight only in Maine. In other words, Bush could have had someone drive him to the state line, hop in the driver’s seat and tool off (legally) into the sunset.

These days, the penalties are stiffer, and most states adhere to an agreement providing reciprocity: A license suspension in Maine, for example, would carry over into Texas.

Has the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) changed since 1976?

In 1976, when Bush was arrested, the legal limit had just been lowered from .15 to .10. Bush’s BAC reportedly measured .10.

Today’s law puts the limit at .08. If you’re arrested and have a BAC between .08 and .15, you’re issued a standard DUI charge. If your BAC goes above .15, you’re stuck with mandatory jail time.

Can a drunk driving arrest be expunged from your record?

Back in ’76, OUI charges were removed from the driver’s record six years after the offense occurred.

Within the first 10 years after the arrest, a driver’s record shows a drunk driving conviction, with various details. After 10 years, a record will only show a past violation, without details. A casual observer wouldn’t be able to pick out a drunk driving conviction by glancing over a 24-year-old arrest record. You have to know what you’re looking for.

Thanks to State Trooper Lt. Theodore Short of York County, Maine (where Kennebunkport is located).

(How many times was he detained for drinking and driving before they were finally forced to arrest him?)

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Political Prisoners

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

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