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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

3/6/10

DOCTORS CRITICIZE LEGISLATIVE STALL ON ENDING SOLITARY PUNISHMENT

MAINE ACLU - Maine physicians have expressed concern about the Criminal Justice Committee 6 to 5 vote "ought not to pass" of "An Act to Ensure the Humane Treatment of Prisoners in the Special Management Unit." The physicians cited data provided by the Department of Corrections that demonstrates a significant percentage of prisoners in the SMU have been diagnosed with mental illness. Current research demonstrates that solitary confinement in the so-called special management unit can exacerbate mental illness or create mental illness where none previously existed.

"The Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians is strongly opposed to the use of administrative segregation (formerly called solitary confinement) based on its potential for creating and exacerbating severe mental illness, worsening cognitive impairment, crippling social skills, and its lack of rehabilitative value," said Dr. Janis Petzel, Executive Director of the Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians.

The Department of Corrections (reported to the Criminal Justice Committtee that as of February 1, 2010, 63% of prisoners in the SMU carried an Axis 1 diagnosis. 48% of prisoners in the SMU were receiving psychotropic medication of some type.

"Prisoners who have experienced segregation and who are released back to the community relapse back into criminal behavior sooner and more aggressively than their general prison population counterparts. Those who experience administrative or high risk segregation are known to experience unrelenting rage and an urge for revenge. How can this possibly improve public safety?" said Petzel.

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