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Three inmates have died within weeks at Maine State Prison, but officials there say the deaths aren’t suspicious. (BDN)<p>{/p}

WARREN (BDN) — Three inmates have died within weeks at Maine State Prison, but officials there say the deaths aren’t suspicious.

The Maine Department of Corrections is limited in what it can disclose publicly after an inmate dies in custody, but officials say the lack of information can lead to questions about the circumstances of those deaths.

“People’s imaginations can run a little bit. But my hands are tied because we want to protect their privacy,” Maine Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty said. “As commissioner, [medical privacy laws] make it difficult to indicate that a death was due to natural causes or a terminal illness. A lot of people assume that there was some sort of suspicious death.“

On Dec. 3, a state inmate died just one month short of his scheduled release. Two days later an inmate serving a 75-year sentence for murder died. Then on Dec. 13 another inmate serving a sentence for murder died.

In all, eight state inmates died in custody in 2019 — the same number of inmate deaths as the previous year. All were in custody at Maine State Prison. Since 2014, the majority of inmate deaths have been from natural causes, Liberty said, though one is attributed to suicide. Another was killed at Bolduc Correctional Facility in June 2018 when an inmate allegedly strangled him in a fight over cigarettes. The inmate accused of the murder is slated to go on trial in May.

Following an inmate’s death, DOC officials issue a public release that details the incident, including the inmate’s name, age, time of death, former residence and information about their prison sentence. The cause of death is typically omitted. While the notifications might seem oversimplified, prison officials say they follow a robust protocol that involves numerous state agencies every time an inmate dies in custody.

Most inmate deaths within the DOC system occur at the Maine State Prison, according to Liberty, because the facility is the only one in the state that offers a hospice program for inmates with terminal illnesses. At that facility, Maine State Prison Det. Andrew Ames is responsible for investigating deaths that occur.

While the majority of deaths occur under staff supervision in the prison’s infirmary, medical staff is immediately notified about deaths that happen in other parts of the facility. When an unresponsive inmate is found in their cell, for example, the corrections officer who found the individual will begin lifesaving procedures, such as CPR.

“If they can try to save that life, they absolutely try,” Ames said. “We’ve had staff here perform CPR for more than 40 minutes in some cases.”

If they’re unable to revive the inmate, officials at the state medical examiner’s office are notified, along with the Maine State Police and the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

“A thorough and robust investigation is being conducted [when an inmate dies], there are checks and balances in place and we are doing everything we can to make sure the right thing is being done,” Ames said.

Even if the inmate dies from natural causes in the infirmary and state police decline to investigate, the medical examiner always reviews the body to determine the cause of death, Ames said, and multiple agencies file reports with the attorney general’s office.

Within an hour of an inmate’s death, the individual’s next of kin is contacted.

“It can be pretty contentious,” Liberty said. “Sometimes the family member will say ‘Thanks for the notification but please don’t contact me again.’”

Once the medical examiner finishes a review, the body is released to the family. If they do not have the means for burial or cremation, the DOC has a budget to cremate the body and provide the remains to the family.

About 15 volunteer inmates support the hospice program at Maine State Prison, and provide care for terminally ill prisoners who are nearing the end of life.

“What I’ve seen happen often, for people who have been incarcerated for long periods of time, their community is the prison. That becomes almost family to them,” Liberty said. “When someone passes in hospice care at the prison, there is a lot of nurturing, a lot of fellowship and a lot of humanity.”

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Zachary Titus

WARREN, MAINE (AP) —  An inmate has pleaded not guilty to killing his cellmate at a minimum security prison in Maine.

Zachary Titus made a brief appearance in court on Monday. A separate hearing will be held within five days to determine whether Titus will be eligible for bail in 18 months when he completes his current prison term for theft.

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Dana Bartlett died June 24 at the Bolduc Correctional Facility, a minimum security facility in Warren. His fiancée says he was having issues with another inmate and had asked to be moved.

Defense lawyer Jeremy Pratt said Monday that he couldn’t comment because the state had provided no information about the killing, including the autopsy or affidavits.

 

Hey everyone.  What’s good?

As always I love your letters.  And, no, I’m not going bald.  Hahaha!  Even though my haters say that they can see where it’s going thin.  I tell them not to put that evil on me!  Hahaha!  Nah, I keep my hair short because I don’t want to grow it out anymore.  Leo got fired from the barbershop, so he can’t take care of my hair anymore.  Besides, I’ve got the waves to make everyone seasick!  Hahaha!  As for getting fat an ounce – never happen.  Hahaha!  I work out, play ball, do yoga, and I have a really high metabolism.

“Hurt not others with that which pains you.” = Buddha.

I am working on that one.  Yeah.

As I am,

Prince

Fortune, Daniel

Daniel Fortune, Augusta, Charged with theft and Guerrette home invasion

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Political Prisoners

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