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.

[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


Maine State Prison “Pilot Programs” Equal Loss of Inmate Rights

Dear Sophie;
My name is [name & number omitted], Maine State Prisoner. You were an advocate for us, until the Prison tried to sever ties, because the prison did not want the public to be addressed about what goes on behind the closed doors of the Maine State Prison. As I write the prison is putting the finishing touches on what they call “Pilot Programs” forcing prisoner to sign away privilages [sic] and rights. Some of the forceful “impliments” [sic] are just down right cruel. I am hoping that you are still interested to help prisoners. If so please write to [name, relationship, and address omitted]. [omitted] will forward your letter directly to me. There are (2) conditions
A) You must sign your letter Sincerely Yours or do not sign at all
B) My lawyer advised, that any inmate that writes to you add “I forfeit all rights to this letter, to the person who is in possession, to do with as they see fit”

After the first couple of letters I believe it would be easier to get document to you via the internet, but either way, using (B) takes away their reprocussion [sic] powers against the inmate.

I appreciate your time and patience to read this letter,
[name omitted]

A Note from FL and Enclosed Article Written in Tribute of “Grannie”

Sat 9,17,2011

Dear Sophie,

I hope this finds all well with you. The weather here is just getting nice and in the low 80’s. I know it is much cooler where you are but hopefully you can enjoy it.

I am enclosing a article I wrote about my Grannie who passed away in 2005 I hope you will post it with the poems I have already sent you? Please return the article in the SASE?

Sorry you can’t send me a picture […] but I do understand and appreciate your help.

I will pass your info around but these guys in Fla are more into waisting [sic] their time rather than writing something positive.

I rarely receive mail from the outside but I write my cousin to remind her I love her and I will be telling her to pass your info to a few of our family to see and read what I have written.

With much love and respect always your friend Tony!

In The Service of The King Jesus Christ

Tony DuPree 120528

Due to the size of the article that Tony sent I was unable to get it scanned correctly and I opted instead to type it in, making sure to add all the pertinent information about the paper and date. The enclosed clipping follows below –Sophie

Covington Times Courier
Wednesday, August 23, 1995
Page 4B

To my Grannie, Alice Knowles…Happy birthday from Tony

I was born in 1962. By then, Grannie (Alice Knowles) and Granddaddy had already raised a very healthy and strong family of three boys and two girls. Together they farmed and grew everything they needed. Grannie cooked and made all their clothes.

They bought very little from stores. Living the quality life they did, they needed very little from outside their own land, and when they did, it was bought with money they made farming.

Granddaddy passed away a few years back of natural causes. He lived a life rich with love and happiness that any European Nobleman would be proud of. We still miss him and his spirit is with us always.

Dear, sweet Grannie, she’s managed to go on without the great man she saw so much life with for well over 50 years together. Now in her late 70’s, she still makes clothes for herself and her great grandchildren. Grannie still grows just about everything she eats, and has until this very day she made shelves of jellies and jams, which I as well as her great grandchildren, love and admire her for.

Her home-baked biscuits with the many fillings from fig preserves to a link of homemade sausage, not to mention all the different pies and cakes she’s always baking. And none of us will forget the fish Grannie showed us how to catch down at the nearby river and how delicious they were when she cooked them up golden brown.

I could go on and write a book about this great Southern lady of Alabama. Bur for my article on what woman influenced my life let’s say that she not only influenced me, but my dear sweet mamma is a sparkling gem and attribute of the same noble character, as well as her sister and brothers.

They are all alive and healthy, living good lives. Growing up, I didn’t fully appreciate the rich quality of life I had been blessed with till I went out into the world and got a bird’s eye view of the decay of the noble European culture taking place in the U.S.

Grannie, you are the heart of the beautiful European culture I know and love as a Southerner. You are the Heart of Dixie. You deserve much praise for raising your children in such a noble way. It is because of your preservation and influence of our noble culture that my own sweet mamma raised and influenced me to be a better man. I love you, Grannie.

Your loving grandson,
Tony O. Dupree
P.S. Happy Birthday Grannie.
Grannie just turned 80 on 7/23/95

Transfered to San Quentin: An Update from Thaddeus


Greetings my fellow
Blgrs. and my wonderful
Friend Sophie.

I am terribly ashamed that it has taken me so long in hitting the site. But don’t fret I’m getting situated here in the infamous, legendary, and noted prison: San Quentin. Yep, after twenty-six years of incarceration, I finally made [it]. This must be the end!

First off, we are being housed in West block, which, presently, is the reception. This is where those that are new coming into the system get classified. And then, in time will be transferred to their final destinations. Now, the problem comes when, before general population got here reception was suppose to be gone and the block fitted for housing main-line convicts. Here’s the clincher! We have no electricity to use our appliances. There’s only lights in the cell! This person who was supposed to have solved this situation felt the need to squander the financed and do it her way. Mind you, this was a woman that a man felt the need to put in charge of a major blunder. Not saying that she couldn’t handle the situation, but merely noting that a male passed a disaster into a females lap.

From the mouth of an [sic] sergeant its unconstitutional to have us housed in an unlivable situation. The convicts here have taken the iniative [sic] to clean-up the building, which was beyond filth. But now its really opened my eyes to further deepen my understanding of those who are less fortunate than the present situation I find myself in.

But Sophie, truth be told I’d rather be in this situation than my previous one. I’m not complaining only stating the real. Unfortunately, I’m enjoying myself Sophie. I’m working on another novel, but I’m going to gather some tales about the ghost who lurks behind these walls. Please, please have a wonderful Christman and an even happier New Year. Sophie, Continue in struggle.

San Quentin, CA.

Solidarity with the 99% from Soledad

My Fellow Blgrs.


Oh.  My.  God.  Did the 99 just go viral around the world?


First off, if anyone is spiritually in tuned person may God forever bless you and keep you safe.  Secondly, did my ‘blogs’ mention what’s going on right now?  We the people are rising to a level that’s been needed for such a longtime I am so happy to see the conscious re-awakened.  Whatever you want to call it movement, revolution, or 99 the present system has neglected the ‘People’.  Now I’m listening to these so-called economist analyze and dissect the problems and yet will not provide a solution, isn’t that terrible?  And then you have the representing the establishment who voices its opinion about their not being a cohesive collective ideology articulating the movements cause.  But we know that the mis-trust [sic], neglect, and lack of jobs for the people are the main issues.  There’s nothing scientific about this global phenomena!  The people are tired of the corporations bribing, buying, and manipulating the so-called government of the people.


The last-time something this drastic happened was the civil rights movement.  Think on this, what if all the people withdrew all of their funds from the banks?  What if all the people began to practice the behavior of being very thrift?  What if the people built their own economic base in which to operate from?


Professional politicians has already screwed the people so what other evidence is there?  Two, seven-hundred dollar bail-outs for the establishment?  I don’t know the answers, but I’m quite sure that “we the people” can enumerate some ideas.  If this is a Christian nation God forbid we act accordingly.  People continue to stand white, black, other all ethnic groups-shoulder to shoulder in our quest to take care of each other.


Please, continue the struggle.



A 24-year-old Man’s Journey to Folsom Prison


After a seventeen and one-half hour bus drive from Chino, California to Represa California, the-Grey-goose-a term that convicts dubbed for the transportation when traveling from the reception center to your final destination.  Suddenly there was a grave-yard at the foot of this winding road leading to the infamous Old Folsom one of the deadliest prisons in California.  As we sputtered up this road a big structure loomed ahead of us.  Picture in your mind a twenty-four year old inexperienced young guy playing like there’s nothing to worry about.  know, I was scared to death!  Mind you, I’m innocent!  Anyway, the gigantic thirty foot doors slowly crept open.  I’d heard many things about Folsom but to actually be there and spend a lot of time there until I capture my freedom was not in my plans.  The Grey-goose slowly entered the pale structure.  As I looked at this monstrosity it looked as if someone took some dynamite and blasted a deep pit and stared building.  We sat their [sic] waiting to be received.  Freddie Jackson’s Rock With Me Tonight was playing, but no one was rockin.


Finally, we were taken to this area over-looking the yard people were milling about.  Suddenly, the yard when down everyone sat down.  I strained to see what was going on my heart was pounding my neck was on a swivel and then I saw correctional officers running with a gurney and as I strained to see the person on the gurney was laying side-ways with what appeared to be a pole thrust through his body.  That scared me terribly!  I didn’t know what to think.  I sat down looking at nothing seeing nothing.  Just as quickly a loud speaker announced-resume program-.  Now I know what those words meant, but they had to be a mistake.  Being placed about the track I yelled down at someone asking them what those words meant.  At that moment people were walking around like nothing happened.  I’d just seen a pole rammed through this persons body and the administration just announced, resume program.


I got there on a Wednesday and all through the week people were getting stuck with knives.  The following Wednesday another person was killed.  From the very first day I knew I was going to keep my nose reeled to my face!


Prison life, then, was a treacherous and violent to the point were eventually a person becomes complacent in that environment.  There’s been many wars fought along racial lines.  Mexicans and Blacks Whites and Blacks.  The cycle of violence never ended.


This is just a taste of what I went through.  Until next time



Always Respect


In the struggle