Reform coming at last to Supermax?

Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in Investigation

Reform coming at last to Supermax?

by Gina Hamilton

PORTLAND -- According to reporting by Lance Tapley in the Portland Phoenix,(, reform in Maine's Special Management Units (SMU) - 132 cells at Warren and a few others around the state - is well underway under the new Corrections Commissioner, Joseph Ponte.

According to Tapley, the special units, full for many years, are now half empty. But there are other, more substantive reforms as well.  Among them:

Ponte wants to put into place most of the recommendations of a group of corrections personnel and prisoner rights activists, including better use of a mental health facility for troubled inmates, and moving it out of the SMU part of the prison.  He has also committed to retraining guards, who have used SMU as the first line of defense.

While problems remain, including better access to health care and especially mental health care, Ponte's reforms are a positive step toward ending SMU abuses in Maine's prisons.

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