Freezing Inmates, Squandered Funds, and Lack of Education Still Issues at Maine State Prison

December 14, 2011

[name omitted]
807 Cushing Road
Warren ME 04864

Sophie Inchains
P.O. Box 2900
S. Portland ME 04106

Dear Sophie,

I haven’t written you in awhile but I hope you are still not being harassed and intimidated by the Department of Corrections administration concerning the expression of our 1st amendment rights. Now you know first hand the power they think they have when prisoners and others such as Stan Moody expose the truth about corruption and other things that go on here. It is also sad that our attorney general and politicians help cover up things and protect the administration or else there would be laws in effect for more transparency and an oversight committee that would help protect staff but you can see our legislature isn’t interested in that.

Remember, 99% or more of person incarcerated are poor and don’t have the resources to fight the sate who have endless taxpayer money to fight court battles. How intimidated did you feel when you were harassed by the warden here about posting prisoner correspondence?

I would like to discuss a few issues that need changing and investigating by the appropriate agencies so if you could fax this letter to people that may be able to help I would appreciate that. Please don’t worry about ay retaliation against me as I will hold my own so you can post this.

First of all, I’d like to say that I have been incarcerated for over 13 year and it is my feeling as well as others that this administration is intentionally creating uneccessay [sic] chaos on a daily basis in order to get prisoners to riot. They would then be able to ask for more finances instead of them being taken away. If you have access to other prisoners and staff I’m sure this could be easily verified.

Every day there are new policies and procedure for everything. What intensifies the chaos and confusion is that there are 2 12 hour shifts, Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday and a rotation on Wednesdays. These shifts are not properly notified of the changes that take place on their days off. There are prisoners explaining policy to staff. Day to day, prisoners, guards, and sergeants alike do not know the policies for the day. This is creating severe tensions among staff and prisoners and between staff and prisoners.

When a prisoner tells the sergeant a policy and the sergeant has to call his superior to verify it that is a sad state of affairs at MSP but that is the truth. This all creates uneccessary [sic] tensions among everyone except for administrators hiding in their offices.

One day or one hour you will be getting patted down, the next you don’t. The next thing you know is that a guard or sergeant is trying to belittle you for walking past them and not getting patted down. One day or one shift you have to line up on this side of the hall for canteen, the other shift you have to line up on the other side. Each shift makes up their own rules, policies and procedures. It is so insane and tempers are rising among staff and prisoners.

Currently we have 4 dining halls yet they want to crowd everyone into 3 dining halls creating a lot of problems and chaos. It is becoming a safety and security issue but they don’t care. Also during the coldest days guards, sergeants, and captains stand outside the dining halls in coats, hats, and gloves and hold the doors wide open so the cold air blows right through freezing everyone especially those right by the door. When you approach them about closing the door you are threatened or yelled at. I have written the warden on this issue but she has ignored it.

Recently kitchen staff have been playing with our food and not enforcing established health code sanitation and hygiene issues. Each week a menu is put up with the meals and portion sizes and the menu looks good on paper but in reality kitchen supervisors have switched over to serving sauce and gravy type meals so they can cut the serving portions down and use less then is posted on the written menu. It’s like a bait and switch which is illegal. Many prisoners are not getting plain gravy over potatoes or gravy with big chunks of uncooked flour because staff that cook our meals do not have to be responsible for any type of quality control. It is hard for the supervisor to supervise sitting in an office. Recently when the supervising sergeant was notified of the gravy issue he laughed about it and a near riot broke out in C-pod section of the close unit. This is the mentality of administration. The pod was then locked down for several weeks. We have very little here and look forward at least to a well prepared meal.

Even though kitchen supervisors know weeks in advance the meals that are to be prepare they don’t have anyone with the ability to order the proper foods and the menu is always changing due to someone not ordering properly. I find it sad that the state can pay the guys a large salary and retirement and they don’t even have to do their jobs. Food is cooked off at noon and put in warmers for a 4-5:30 serving. They could never get away with this in a private sector job but I’m sure that is why 3 of the kitchen staff retired then came back to work in the prison and did not go into the private sector. They’d be fired in a heartbeat because they’d have to be accountable to someone. Here they don’t. I have been in the food business all my life including owning my own deli so I do know what I am talking about. There is also a consensus in the prison among staff and prisoner that Kitchen Cook Woodman be drug and alcohol tested as on his best day it is hard for him to put toast and cereal on a tray.

Prisoners are forced to wear beard restraints under threat of being fired when working around the serving line or cooking yet kitchen staff have no policy for covering their beards going completely against Maine Health cod. The administration has taken to turning the heat way down in the prison pods but keep it full blast in the hallways and supervisor and administrators offices. Is our heat more expensive? IN the pods guards are forced to wear coats and even hats because it is so cold. How can officers do their jobs correctly when they have to worry about staying warm.

Why aren’t our legislators and prisoner advocates allowed to come to the prison and speak with staff and prisoners alike to really find out what is going on here? Is everyone waiting for a riot or another murder? How many does it take for politicians to wake up?

Many years ago the state instituted the Inmate Benefit Fund (IBF). This fund was suppose to be for the benefit of prisoners and its completely financed by prisoners and their families form the profits from the canteen and the phone calls at 30 cents per minute. This fund pays for college courses, gate money, 2 free letters per week for prisoners, supplies, and equipment for recreation and other things.

Recently after receiving a copy of the 2009 IBF expenses report which is available to anyone including our representatives, I found that the Department of Corrections ahs been using money out of the fund to pay for building maintenance and other state mandated items.

DOC policy states that prisoners can be paid for their jobs out of the fund only if their job directly benefits other prisoners. Currently administrators pay out about 70,000.00 to favored individuals and a large portion of that is paid for maintenance costs which is illegal. I am asking for a complete investigation into the illegal use of funds from the IBF by our legislators and/or the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability because prisoner are still voters and have a say about their own money. I would like this investigation to go back at least 10 years to establish a pattern of abuse. The fund should then be reimbursed with interest.

First of all, the state is required by law to provide food, shelter, clean clothing, and medical care at their expense and possibly education under no child left behind.

At MSP the state pays some kitchen workers up to a maximum of $50.00 per month which could take a year or more to work into, to work 6-7 hours per day, 5 days a week.

However, according to DOC policy, prisoners can be paid out of the IBF if their job directly benefits other prisoners. Currently, the funds, which are quite substantial, are being terribly misused for the benefit of the state to defer mandated and maintenance costs.

In the 2009 IBF expense report, the last one I received, which is available to all legislators and the Office of Evaluation and Government Accountability, the fund paid out $4100 to barbers, $1200 to wheelchair pushers, $5100 to recreation workers, and $750 to the visiting room family photographer. Although these sums are quite high compared to the state paid kitchen workers, these jobs directly benefit prisoners.

On the other hand the administration has been paying out outrageous sums of money to favored prisoners to offset maintenance costs and other mandated expenses. These jobs in no way directly benefit other prisoners but directly benefit the state. I will explain.

From the expense report it was noted that $13, 200. In IBF funds were used to pay painters, plumbers, and handyman prisoners while paying state employees hired for maintenance to watch them work maintaining the facility. Certain Housing Unit cleaners were paid (bribed) $4100 to buff floors and clean administrative offices while other doing the same job receive nothing. Certain prisoners were paid $7100 to wash our clothes and hand them out and print shop workers were paid $1100 to print state materials even though MSP does not have a print shop. These are all state mandated expense that are the responsibility of the state to pay and not prisoners out of their fund. This is totally insane!

All workers paid from the IBF earn 50%-600% more than the state paid kitchen workers. Why? How is that possible for working less hours?

In the education department they highly pay a fulltime teacher and used to be 2 fulltime teachers and a principal not to teach but then spend over $10, 700 a year to pay prisoners to teach classes while the teacher sits and drinks coffee. IF you are a prisoner making 600% more than other prisoners would you say anything about state paid teachers just sitting around? No! They highly pay a drug abuse counselor and a state contracted drug counselor and then pay 2 prisoners $5100 per year to do their jobs. A librarian is paid a huge sum of money but they pay a prisoner $3900 per year to hand out court documents and go to recreation and other prisoners $2300 to clean the library. The librarian has plenty of time to hand out court documents as the state has taken away our Prisoner Advocate and tried to replace her with a prisoner for much less money.

All these jobs directly benefit the state and state workers and were never meant to benefit prisoners but to offset state costs. Why is there such a differencial [sic] in what the state pays a worker and what administrators illegally take from the IBF to pay favorites? If you were being bribed $2000 to $4000 per year would you speak up about corruption or abuse? I think not but would turn the other way.

The abuse of the money from this fund needs careful investigation and this doesn’t even take into consideration other questionable expenses other than prisoner pay.

Please help us Governor LePage and legislators!

As a 56 year old veteran I am computer illiterate and have been on a waiting list for over 4 years to learn computers. The education department has 2 full rooms full of new computer sand Rosetta Stone language software but we cannot use them, except for a few favorites. The excuse, they don’t have money to pay for a teacher. The solution! Stop paying illegal payments out of the IBF and hire a computer teacher! Just cutting out the illegal payments for maintenance could pay for a teacher.

After some careful research I recently submitted to Commissioner Ponte who passed it on to Warden Barnhart how the $500,000 IBF, if properly invested and legal and illegal expenses cut along with the proper operation of the prison canteen and phone system could finance a prisoner re-entry and training facility at no cost to taxpayers but financed solely by prisoners and their families. This could support fact based programs.

When there is no transparency, oversight, or accountability in a state agency such as the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Department of correction and politicians help cover things up, anything can and will happen. IN this instance corrections administration should not only be accountable for the mismanaged funds but for the lives and well being of prisoners and staff alike.

Sophie, please fax this to prisoner advocacy groups, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, Stan Moody, and any state legislators that may be against corruption or abuse in state agencies. There may not be many.

In closing, when Paul LePage and Commissioner Ponte came into office I also proposed a recycling program for state agencies as just in corrections there is so much waste and plenty of paper and plastic to be recycled at no cost but they continue to pay for uneccessary [sic] garbage disposal. My plan would have immediately cut down on tipping fees charged the state, reduction of tens of thousands of plastic bags in landfills and the cost of those bags by the state. No one seems to care.

Take care and let me know who you have contacted with this letter.

Sincerely,
[name omitted]

***A note from Sophie***
This letter was sent in to the blog almost a year ago, and although the inmate did not fear retaliation, I felt that withholding the letter would be safer for him as inmates who were writing into Voices had been targets. In addition, due to certain scary incidents in my personal life–I believe directly related to MSP and the blog–I was publishing very little.

So here we are almost one year later and very little of what is written in the above letter has changed. Commissioner Ponte has allowed advocate groups into the prison (thank you Commissioner), and changes in staff have show improvements in respects to the flow of information (sometimes)between shifts;however, the rest of what the inmate discusses still holds true and with the cold of winter approaching it is worth noting, no inmate deserves to freeze.

Solidarity Always, Sophie Inchains

Still Held at MCC and Fearing Retaliation from Staff Over Inquiries

Dear Mrs. Sophie Inchains 1/25/2012

I have written you already once not too long ago and I am writing once again so that I can explain how I feel about my current situation, and in hopes that you can better help me if possible. Because now some new things have come up. But, please allow me to explain that it is in fact a part of what I had written to you about a week ago.

They’re still playing games with me, im [sic] still getting the “run around”, but now they’re saying that the write up that I supposably [sic] kicked out of CCF for has been thrown out. However, I still have seg. time to do on a previous write up that is not true. I only had one other write up that I had received and was found guilty at CCF, but was already taken care. I had received a class A and a class B, they had dropped it and I received a class C write up instead. My punishment consisted of 5 days room restriction at CFF and was completed accordingly with no loss good time.

At CFF my D-board officer was sgt. Robberts, I had asked MCC to call him and check with further information so this matter can be resolved. I have written to everyone here that I could possibly think of to also help me get this matter resolved. But, no one has any helpful information and im [sic] still helplessly clueless as to what’s gonna happen to me. However, MCC did tell me that I am still minimum, (thank god for that much).

But, I do fear that they will try and write me up, for administrative burdon [sic] or failure to adjust for making “waves”. That would’nt [sic] be right or fair on my behalf. That’s why im [sic] writing today explaining my current situation in hopes that you may be able to help me. From what I have heard you’re the only one that can help me at this point.

I apologize for any inconvenience and I appreciate your time. Take care and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely & Respectively

[letter unsigned]

Transfered, Forgotten, and Running in Paperwork Circles Trying to be Close to Family

Dear Mrs. Sophie Inchains 1-23-11

My name is [name omitted for safety], my inmate # is [number omitted for safety]. I was told to write to you because you may be able to help with my current situation. I have also written to the commissioner and Scott Mcaffery the head of the D.O.C. classification in August and I have not yet received a response.

My problem is that I was shipped out of CCF (Charleston Correctional Facility) with a class C write up for disrespect to the staff. I received the write up on December 31st. I was then transferred to MCC (Maine Correctional Center) and this is where I remain. I am back in the pods for 20 hours a day, it is now the 23’rd of January, and I still have’nt [sic] went to my D-board for my “so called write up”. I’m still classified minimum according to both C.C.F. and M.C.C., yet I’m still being punished. Due to D.O.C. policy they can no longer give me my said write up, because it clearly states that they have 7 working days to do so from the time that write up had been sighned [sic].

Now M.C.C. is giving me the “run around” saying that they’re waiting to hear back from C.C.F because they think the write up may still be applicable. But, because of all of this I’m very well “stuck” and clueless as to what may happen. I cannot be placed on the list to go to Downeast Correctional Center, which is a minimum/medium facility and it is also close to home.

I should of kept my composior [sic] towards the officer at C.C.F. But, however he was also in the wrong, he pointed his finger in my face and in a disrespectful manner, swaring [sic] and putting me down when in fact he does’nt [sic] know me as a person. I should’nt [sic] of lost my temper, I’ll admit it, but he provoked me by cursing and yelling right in my face. They should lead by example where there is a code of ethics in bot of our situations. But, why do they have to play these confusing games especially when they have the “upper-hand” in said situation.

I do realize that I am in fact an inmate, but I’m a human being also. All that I want is this ridiculous conflict resolved, put this all behind me, get back to where I can have contact with my family, and hopefully keep my minimum. Please help me in doing so? Thank you for your time.

Sincerely and Respectively,

[name omitted for safety]

This Voice enclosed three “Request Slip for Information or Interview with Administration and Staff” reports. In order to try to keep him from suffering retaliation I have typed his complaint section and the response from the officer with their name, if legible. Apparently, along with not follow their own policies about write-ups and ethics, corrections officers are also not required to print their names next to their signatures. All personal information on the top of the form has been omitted.
-Sophie

[Sheet One]
1-5-11 [sic]
State in the space below all information or action requested:
I would like to be put on the list for Bucks Harbor please I’m from there its only an hour from my home easier for my family to visit me and I just want to be close to home so please try to get there as soon as possible I just miss my family thank you for your time on this matter I hope to here [sic] back from you soon
Sincerely respectfully

Listed below are the answers, actions and information requested by you on:

1-11-12 Signed: Dahn M Grass [sic?]

Please write to Unit 2. You had some recent disciplinary @ CCF so not sure you’ll be put on a list for DCF until you show some positive behavior & attitude.

[Sheet Two]
1-14-12

State in the space below all information or action requested:
I was brought down on a diciniplary [sic] action however I did not get a wrote up as far as I know and if I did the time has expired to give me a write up I’ve been down here for 2 weeks from C.C.F and I am still classified as minimum I am just wondering if you can give me an IDEA of how long I’ll remain in the pods you see I live 31/2 maybe 4 hours away and I wod [sic] like to get a contact visit with my family its drives me crazy not being able to see them I’m not having them drive that far to sit behind a glass thank you for your time on this matter I hope to hear back from you soon respectfully

Listed below are the answers, actions and information requested by you on:

1/18/12 Signed: Sgt. Klt [sic?]
We will have to look into it further.

[Sheet Three]
1-14-12

State in the space below all information or action requested:
I was brought here from C.C.F on a diciniplery [sic] action 2 weeks ago how ever [sic] I dident [sic] receive a write up as far as I know and if I did get a write the time limit on it has expired C.C.F still classified me minimes [sic] and according to MCC I am still minimem [sic] I’m just wondering if you can give me an IDEA of how long I will remain in the pods you see sir I live 4 hours away and I just want 2 see my family a contact visit not behind a glass I also want you to know capt that I am sorry about what happened at C.C.F I was wrong but I swear to you it was only ½ my fault and I give you my word this no problem from me I hope to here [sic] from you soon sincerely respectuly [sic] and Thank You

[No date of response only what appears to be a V and 12R on that line] Signed: WF [sic?]

Listed below are the answers, actions and information requested by you on:
I currently have no discipline reports on you from CCF or anywhere else. I am not in charge of your housing. Write to Captain Emmerson or Asst. Sgt. Libby please

Wrongfully Incarcerated Since 2000: This Inmate is Seeking Legal Assistance and Freedom

December 20, 2011

Dear Sophie,

Enclosed is a drafted letter I used to write a handful of lawyers seeking to help me on my ongoing struggles with bias parole board.

In 1999, I committed a minor offense. Was sentenced in Androscoggin superior court to a minor term of imprisonment. Judge outright told the prosecutors, “Mr. Wardwell is no longer on parole”. I have written to Auburn, ME superior court (clerks office) seeking docket # to that offense. As they have not answered my first letter. So I wrote them again last week. I am back-tracking some documentation to eventually support my multi-million dollar lawsuit down the road.

Once sentenced in 1999, some unknown probation officer or cop kidnapped me to M.S.P. Records here would prove no parole officer violated my parole. As I was on parole and was eventually “discharged”, in 1980’s. When they did eventually bring me to parole board, a five (5) year term was issued. When I went again (2007) another five years was imposed. I have been incarcerated over ten (10) years for what? Parole records cannot substantiate any documentation how I came into Maine D.O.C. custody. Past ten (10) years classification officials (about 6 various ones), and unit managers have asked me how I was brought into prison? As no ‘sentence or commitment’ paperwork exists.

You might be asking, “why did I wait over ten (10) years before filing a #2254 habeas corpus petition in U.S. District Court (Bangor)?” Because prisoners are threatened and written up for helping prisoners at M.S.P. Yep, good ole’ boy system has an iron fist on prisoners helping other prisoners. Why only one (1) paralegal is paid #320 @ [sic] to assist #700 prisoners in need of legal assistance.

Eventually I will be released from my illegal sentence and sue the state for caging up a #70 year old man. Recently, I have reassured my ex-wife I’ll be home soon. We’ll get re-married again. As a probation officer (Roy Gutfinski) one day kept hounding her to divorce me. That way, I wouldn’t have a place to parole to upon my release. She ended up throwing all my clothes away and signed divorce papers Mr. Gutfinski made out for her.

Maine is trying to possibly reinstate parole back to Maine statue. We need a whole new board. As ex-prosecutor (Neale Duffett) is blatantly violating people’s rights and this cat is a public defender in Ptld [Portland]. I always do wonder how these folks can sleep themselves to bed at night. Please do not worry about exposing the truth of this letter. 12-18-11 Bangor Daily News just published a story on me. Pretty soon I’ll be preaching a senate committee should commence and fire a bunch of bias state workers for my pains. Sincerely,
Gaylon L. Wardwell

December 20, 2011

In 2000, prison official had extra beds in their new Warren facility. I was arrested for new criminal conduct, after being on parole for #15 years or more. Pursuant to 34-A M.R.S.A. 5809 my parole sentence was eventually ‘discharged’ by penal officials. But due to new charges prison staff illegally reinstated my parole status. Lawcourt already declared this practice as illegal in State v. Rodney Austin, 663 A.2d 62 (Maine 1995). Still parole board has wrongfully held me in custody so far for over ten (#10) years.

Last month, Esquire Duffett (parole chairman) appointed me an attorney. This is highly rare.

Esq. Pagnano has been appointed to represent me. But I keep hearing your office would adamantly represent my best interest at my parole hearing and future civil rights complaint.

If your unable to represent my claims, could you possibly refer me to another attorney? I thank you in advance for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Gaylon L. Wardwell

Captain Cutler Strikes Again! Illegally Confiscated Legal File, Intimidation, and Pen Theft all in a Day’s Work!

The following information should give you fellow bloggers an idea of some of the tactics the officers use here on a daily basis to keep the prisoners off balance and oppressed.

 

Captain Cutler harassed me on November 15, 2011.  He intentionally stole my ink pen, a rhyme, and read legal paperwork that involved him and then he confiscated my entire legal file.  His acts were done with malicious intentions that had nothing to do with the prison’s security or the orderly functioning of it.  The other officers that were present admitted to recognizing the unprofessional acts of the Captain.  It was obvious to everyone that the Captain intended to escalate the situation by attempting to provoke me into violence.  However, I remained calm and respectful which made the Captain look like a school yard bully and the one sided conflict was defused.

 

Captain Cutler performed a pat down search on me when I was carrying my legal file in route to the law library.  When the pat down was finished he began searching the legal file.  I informed him that the file contained legal work and I was going to study it at the library.  He continued searching the file while reading its contents.  He discovered an old rhyme that originated from a Playboy Magazine.  He informed me “he thought” the rhyme was inappropriate and then stole it.  Because I was unaffected by his provocation he confiscated my entire legal file.  I still did not react, so he stole my pen.  It was evident that the Captain was looking for a fight.  But, everytime [sic] he tried to fish me in, he failed.  I followed his inappropriate orders which defused the situation.

 

I arrived at the library empty handed only to be called back to my living quarters by officer Waltz.  When I returned to the pod it was locked down and I locked myself in.  Two hours later the cell was unlocked.  At that time, I asked officer Waltz his reason for calling me back from the library.  He explained that the Captain asked him to go through the legal file with me so I knew what was legal and what was not.

 

Officer Waltz then began reading my legal paperwork that included privileged mail, letters, and information from my attorney including some case law.  Offer Waltz wanted to know how the various items in the file related to legal work.  I answered his questions.  At that point he became frustrated which seemed to trigger his inability to communicate ineffectively with the prisoners.  He rudely advised me for no apparent reason that he would have Captain Cutler go through it with me.  At that point I asked to see the sergeant.  Waltz refused the request informing me I can not [sic] see the sergeant but had the option to lock in my cell.  He also made a commit [sic] for the second time in a week that I will not be in his pod long.  I walked off and sat down in the dayroom to watch television.  Within a few minutes Waltz returned with my legal file.

 

There was no material in the file that violated prison policy.  By officer Waltz returning it to me proves that the Captain and the officers behavior was meaningless, it was pure harassment.  The Captain attempted to instigate violence, but he failed.  His own co-workers commented on his ridiculous, immature behavior.  They were embarrassed as they thought it reflected on there [sic] roles as officers.  It’s fascinating how Cutler and Waltz discriminate by intimidating and harassing humans that can do very little to defend themselves!  Please have the Captain by [sic] me a new pen and rhyme that he stole and ask them both to leave me alone!

 

Please understand that it is your $60,000 a year per inmate in tax dollars that pays for this oppression.  It will continue happening unless the public demands prison reform.

 

Demand the government spend your tax dollars on influencing the prisoners in a positive manner so they can be rehabilitated when released.  This will produce a safer society, redirect tax $ to more important matters such as education, and help the prisoners live a upright productive live that will only produce more tax dollars and less trouble!

 

This correspondence reflects my constitutional right under the first amendment which states that:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise theof [sic]; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievanes [sic].

 

Sincerely,

 

Henry