Solitary confinement

BDN articles about solitary confinement at the Maine State Prison and the young man from Brooks who changed his troubled ways by finding an interest in volunteering could have a valuable connection. As I viewed the Frontline PBS video on solitary confinement recently, I was wondering who in the world could think that putting inmates in solitary for long periods of time, with absolutely nothing to do, would have any positive results at all?

What is the point of having nothing to do? Very few are going to independently be big readers or writers. Give these guys something to occupy their minds with, such as iPads or video games; or how about some art supplies? One can vent a lot of pent-up stuff by coloring, painting or working with clay. It is time to step into the 21st century, cease these draconian methods of imprisonment and begin some real attempts at rehabilitation.

Of course they act out — because, as one inmate said, “You’ve got to do something!” What if their “punishment” were having to research, plan and plant a garden and then work in it? Or reupholster a chair or raise a puppy? There is nothing to live for in an empty room that looks out on nothing. In this day, prisons should be schools, shops and farms.

For an example of a Maine prison that has many ongoing programs that give the inmates positive things to do, and skills to develop that will facilitate their successful return to society, check out the Downeast Correctional Facility in Bucks Harbor.

Gillyin Gatto


Hats off

A big “hats off” to Bangor police for their participation in and support of the Color Bangor event held last weekend on the Bangor Waterfront. They have further proven their collaboration and support of community through building relationships with the “average Joe and


So often when we think of law enforcement we see police as the people on TV talking about the “bad guys” or pulling us over because of an expired inspection sticker. In both cases, it is not necessarily the feeling of an officer who is caring and concerned about making our

communities a better place. Bangor PD made a lot of new friends and

reinforced old relationships at Color Bangor.

Where police are so often removed from casual and friendly exchanges because of centralized dispatches and vehicles decked out like offices, police officers often seem untouchable. This participation went a long way in community building.

Kelly Cotiaux


The good life

Thanks to the Bangor Daily News for the enlightening Good Life series. Many who sought the Good Life in Maine also sought larger changes even as they created their own alternatives. These changes were not limited to organic farming or simple living: Many (including Helen and Scott Nearing) also sought the Good Life for the state, the nation and the planet.

Many of these seekers continue to advocate and work for domestic, national and global peaceful alternatives to conflicts. They continue to develop sustainable energy and democratic economic alternatives. They urge reordering national priorities to serve the needs of our communities rather than a bloated military, the wealthy and corporations.

It is this broader vision of the Good Life that was reflected at the 20th annual HOPE (Help Organize Peace Earthwide) Festival held at the University of Maine on April 26. The festival, involving 75 organizations and organized by the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, celebrates connections to the earth and to each other and encourages grass-roots involvement in social change efforts. Helen Nearing was the keynote speaker in 1995 at the first festival, when, shortly before her death, she urged a global vision of people living simply so that others might live.

This year the keynote was delivered by Sherri Mitchell, an indigenous rights lawyer and activist, speaking of the destruction of tribal lands in pursuit of fossil fuels and the need to respect land treaties and to pursue alternative energies for the sake of future generations.

Ilze Petersons

Program coordinator

Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine


Jackson vote

As a freshman legislator, Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced over 20 bills; most of them about fair labor practices. Jackson was aware of the mistreatment of Maine’s blue-collar workers. Working shoulder to shoulder with other loggers, he knew the importance of fair pay for a fair day’s work and about the luxury of benefits, like health insurance.

During that time I was Troy’s legislative aide. I remember the day he talked about the passing of his buddy. His friend was in his early 20s and had lost his life due to a heart condition that could have been detected with a regular physical exam. The needless death of his friend turned Jackson into a champion of expanding health care to all people in our state. This is a battle Troy will continue to fight as long as 70,000 people have no health insurance.

I am supporting Troy in his bid for U.S. Congress because he will always listen to me. I know he shares my concerns because we both grew up in Maine, and he knows what is important to Mainers. I also know Troy will never be afraid to present a piece of legislation. Those who have more clout or money do not intimidate him. He will always be the voice of Maine people in Washington.

Troy will have my vote on June 10 and again in November because he truly is a public servant who understands Maine and the people who live here.

Sue Crawford


Management style

The April 29 BDN editorial and April 30 front page article do a good job of illustrating the governor’s management style. I’m reminded of a supervisor I once had, whose preference it was to “manage by memo.” His office door was rarely open, and staff would routinely arrive at work to find a memo on the desk, outlining the day’s tasks and how they were to be done. It seemed he wanted to rule the employees, not engage them in planning the work. I guess he figured that was his job.

Nancy Gibbs, managing editor of Time magazine, writes smartly in the current issue about the difference between power, a tool, and influence, a skill. If the governor could better exercise the skill, he may not have to employ the tool quite as much as he has.

Clyde Tarr