Just when I thought the administration at the Maine State Prison in Warren could not sink any lower, they have once again proved me wrong.
Over the last 3 months prisoners have called home or gone to visits only to be met by concerned and upset wives or girlfriends or disappointed children; all wondering why prisoners are not answering their mail.
The answer is simple. We are not getting it.
When prisoners complain they are met with the excuse that there is only one mail room [sic] clerk and that mail is backed up.
That excuse worked for awhile [sic] but when I was still waiting in April for letters that were mailed in March from friends and family I knew something was wrong, and what I’ve learned has shocked me.
In April I spoke w/the program administrative coordinator Bob Costigan and questioned him about how mail is handled and processed. He informed me that as a prisoner my mail is not protected by the same laws as someone outside the fence.
I spoke w/numerous staff in the prison from sergeants, captains, deputy wardens and even the warden herself. All of them assured me it was being looked into.
Now, here it is the third week of June and I am still not getting my mail.
Last month an officer who works here and who wishes to remain anonymous told me they [gender omitted by Sophie to protect officer throughout the next two paragraphs] has personally witnessed mail being shredded and thrown away by staff in the prison. When I asked them why they [the mailroom] were doing this the person said, “Because there is too much mail to deal with.”
The officer also told me that they will sometimes leave mail at the post office “unclaimed” and have the post office send it back where it came from.
I have spoken to many prisoners who say their families have gotten mail back that is stamped, “refused” or that the prisoner is, “no longer in the facility.” Most of the mail that was not received by prisoners has just vanished and these numbers reach into the hundreds. It includes personal letters with postal money orders or checks enclosed, magazine subscriptions and news papers [sic].
I wrote to the office of the inspector general for the U. S. postal service in Woburn, MA. and got no response. A letter has also been sent to the post master [sic] in Bangor, ME.
As of 6-17-11 the mailroom clerk Nancy Shanholtzer informed me that she was all caught up w/mail and could offer no excuse for why 200 prisoners are missing mail, just in the month of June.
A friend I spoke w/on the phone told me he looked at Nancy Shanholtzer Facebook page and has seen her on numerous occasions chatting and e-mailing people during hours she should be processing prisoner mail. I suppose on can find time to chat on line [sic] when they sort mail w/a shredder.
I would appreciate any help or suggestions form the streets. The administration here is very good at silencing those they do not want to be heard.