State changes solitary confinement policy after judge ruled it violated inmate’s rights

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
The Maine State Prison in Warren.
Douglas Burr spent 22 months in solitary confinement at the Maine State Prison without ever being charged with misconduct.
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The deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections said he’s confident that what happened to Maine State Prison inmate Douglas Burr won’t and can’t happen again.

Burr spent 22 months in solitary confinement without ever being charged with misconduct. He was told that in order to be released into the general population, he would have to admit that he trafficked in drugs.

Dr. Ryan Thornell, deputy commissioner, said that since Burr’s release from segregation, the department has revised its policies and practices.

[22 months in solitary violated Maine inmate’s rights, but he’s not entitled to damages, judge rules]

“We would not have a situation where someone would remain in restrictive housing the way he did without a disciplinary finding or without some serious act of violence or a threat against a facility, which is really our criteria for restrictive housing placements going forward,” he said.

Last week, a Superior Court judge ruled that Burr’s due process rights were repeatedly violated, but she did not believe there was a remedy she could grant him, in part because the DOC has put in place a system of “meaningful reviews” of segregation placements. The process requires staff to meet with prisoners on a regular basis and is overseen by the prison warden and by Thornell himself.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.


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