Maine panel reviews prison treatment bill

Posted Feb. 17, 2010, at 2:36 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Baldacci administration is opposing a bill that would impose new restrictions on the treatment of prisoners who are separated from the rest of the prison population.

Rep. James Schatz’s bill before the Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday would limit solitary confinement of prisoners to 45 consecutive days before a review process with legal representation for the prisoner must be held. Supporters of the Blue Hill Democrat’s bill say extended solitary confinement causes psychological harm and violates constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.

Gov. John Baldacci’s corrections commissioner, Martin Magnusson, said the bill would place prison staff and inmates in danger.