Corrections Department Revises Policy Restricting Inmate Communication

Mar 1, 2016

A spokesman for the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition says he appreciates that the Department of Corrections revised its policy on prisoner discipline.

The DOC had proposed a policy that would have prevented inmates from corresponding with pen pals, writing under a byline for the news media or having statements posted on social media. But late Monday the Department released a statement saying Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick took into consideration comments from advocacy groups and others who objected to its limits on speech.

Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition spokesman Joseph Jackson says he’s also grateful that the department has agreed to eliminate self-inflicton of bodily injury as a disciplinary violation.

“Almost everything that we asked for was really addressed,” he says. “It’s not to say that there are not other things in the disciplinary policy that we don’t like, obviously, but everything we fought for so far we won on. We’re pretty happy with that.”

Jackson says one thing he’d still like to see addressed in the future is a policy that classifies any prisoner who fails urinalysis as a “trafficker.”

“And we think that’s wrong and these people should be classified as addicts,” he says. “There should be a different outcome for those we define as addicts versus traffickers.”

The department also made other changes from the proposed discipline policy, including an assurance that mental health staff will be consulted for input on disciplinary matters affecting those prisoners who are mentally ill.