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Cumberland County Jail
Cumberland County, Maine
Correctional Medical Services
February 26, 2008 Portland Press Herald
Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion said today that the county has begun its own internal investigation to determine whether a man who is HIV-positive was denied medication when he arrived at the jail on a misdemeanor charge of failing to pay a fine. Dion said he is assessing how much time elapsed between when Charles Wynott arrived at the end of January and when he was provided medication prior to his release about a week later. The jail typically does not store a wide range of expensive HIV medicines but Dion said he will assess whether there was an unacceptably long delay in determining the medical care Wynott needed and then obtaining medicine and providing it to Wynott. Inmates are not allowed to bring their own medication into the jail. Wynott, who is representing himself, filed a federal lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland against Correctional Medical Services, which manages medical care in the jail, saying delays in getting him his medicine may have allowed the virus in his system to mutate, making it more resistant to medicine. Dion said CMS would not have had a financial motive to deny the medicine. CMS does not pay for the medicines it prescribes, but is instead paid a management fee by the county and then passes the cost of medicine and hospitalizations on to the county. Medicine costs alone were almost $400,000 last year.

February 26, 2008 WMTW
A Westbrook man is suing the company that provides health care services at the Cumberland County Jail, saying it took the jail five days to give him his HIV medication. Charlie Wynott spent about a week at the jail last month after being arrested for driving with a suspended license. Wynott, 44, filed a lawsuit in federal court last week against Correctional Medical Services. He said he wants to see policies changed. He told News 8, "It's not about the money to me. It's about taking care of the inmates in the jail. It shouldn't take five days for them to get the meds to you." Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion said the jail tries to provide the best care possible. "I've looked at the timeline. There was a lag,” he admitted. “The reason for the delays is it wasn't available in the pharmacy. It's pretty costly, and we don't normally keep it on the shelf. Once we did get it, he received it." While Dion said he would like to see the lawsuit open up a conversation on the issue, Wynott said he just wants to make a difference. Another man filed a similar suit against the jail’s former medical provider about 10 years ago. David McNally settled out of court.

Maine Correctional Center
Windham, Maine
CMS
February 16 Kennebec Journal

A Gardiner nurse will get to tell a jury why she feels she was a victim of retaliation when she was escorted from her job at the Maine State Prison on Oct. 17, 2008, and ultimately fired. Katherine Kelley sued Correctional Medical Services, Inc., of St. Louis, Mo., about her firing, claiming it was a violation of her rights under the Americans with Disabilities and the Maine Human Rights acts. A three-judge panel of the U.S. First Circuit Court of the Appeals ruled recently that the case should go to trial. However, that ruling is still subject to appeal. "I am very ecstatic because someone believed me," Kelley said. The circuit court panel overturned a U.S. district court judge's decision dismissing the lawsuit in favor of Correctional Medical Services at the summary judgment stage. "We have to have a trial of the facts," said Kelley's attorney, Guy Loranger. Kelley's lawsuit was filed in federal court Nov. 1, 2010. It was originally filed in Knox County Superior Court. Loranger said he expects the case to go on the trial calendar this spring, depending on whether Correctional Medical Services appeals the three-judge decision to the full U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals. "She was ecstatic, and rightfully so," Loranger said. "She went through a lot. It was very difficult to hear the court say she had no case." Attorney Matthew J. LaMourie, who argued on behalf of Correctional Medical Services, Inc., said he could not comment on the decision because the case is still "active litigation." Kelley, a licensed practical nurse, started working for Correctional Medical Services at the prison in spring 2007, and court documents show she was earning almost $49,000 annually. She shattered her pelvis in July 2007, and when she returned to work using first crutches and then a cane to get around, she sought an accommodation for her medical disability. The decision, authored by Circuit Judge Kermit Lipez, outlined a series of encounters between Kelley and a supervisor, Teresa Kesteloot, who required Kelley to bring a doctor's note about her need for a cane and work-hour limitations. On Oct. 17, 2008, Kelley, who was on vacation, agreed to cover a shift in an emergency. She was placed in the main clinic, where she would be required to respond to emergencies and carry equipment, including a stretcher, something she said she would find difficult. After several attempts to shuffle jobs among several nurses, Kelley told the supervisor she "did not feel 'comfortable with the physical responsibilities,'" and mentioned leaving work. She also refused to do a narcotics count, saying two other nurses already had done it. Two security officers escorted her out of the prison at midnight at Kesteloot's direction. "Under these circumstances, a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that Kelley's refusal to obey an instruction of Kesteloot served as a convenient pretext for eliminating an employee who had engaged in ADA-protected conduct one too many times," Lipez wrote. After being fired as a prison nurse, Kelley said she worked only part time. Now 52, she has been disabled and unable to work since July 2009. Part of the reason, Kelley said, is that she had to delay a second surgery when she lost her medical insurance along with her job. "I've always been a real workaholic. I literally worked until my leg gave out," Kelley said. Before working for Correctional Medical Services, she had worked at the Veterans Administration Medical and Regional Office Center at Togus and for agencies in the Portland area.

March 13, 2008 Sun Journal
A medical technician doing contract work at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham was arrested Sunday night after allegedly being found in possession of cocaine. Jeanne-Marie L. Brett, 31, of 277 Fore St., Oxford, was charged with possession of a schedule W drug, a Class D misdemeanor. She was released on $500 unsecured bail shortly after being admitted to the Oxford County Jail. According to jail booking sheets, Brett has been employed as a medical technician for three years. An official at the Maine Correctional Center said Brett is not a state employee, because medical services are contracted through the privately owned Correctional Medical Services. Norway Police Chief Robert Federico said Brett was a passenger in a 2002 Honda Accord stopped by Officer Ron Cole on Beal Street. "The focus of the stop was the driver, who was suspended," Federico said. Federico said an off-duty police officer reported the car after he recognized the driver, 39-year-old Michael A. Pulsifer of 52 Skeetfield Road in Oxford. Pulsifer was arrested and charged with operating after suspension and violation of bail conditions. He remained in jail Wednesday evening. According to Federico, a search of the vehicle turned up a bag of white powder that tested positive for cocaine. Cole also saw open cans of beer in the vehicle, two bags containing a usable amount of marijuana, a pipe, a tin and film container with marijuana residue, and several unidentified pills. Federico said Brett claimed she was holding the cocaine for a friend so she wouldn't get in trouble. He said Brett did not appear to have a criminal history. Brett declined to comment Wednesday on the matter.

August 13, 2004
The U.S. attorney for Maine released a Westbrook doctor Thursday without filing criminal charges, a day after federal drug agents raided his medical office and arrested him. The arrest of Dr. Juan Carlos Lazaro led to his dismissal as medical director of the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, and caused his lawyer to question the actions of federal agents who detained the 57-year-old doctor. Before learning of his release, state corrections officials banned Lazaro from the prison, citing security reasons. The ban led Lazaro's employer, Correctional Medical Services Inc., to dismiss him as the prison's medical director. The firm, based in St. Louis, Mo., holds a state contract to provide medical services at the prison. (Portland Press Herald)

July 22, 2004
A South Paris woman who had been a counselor at the Maine Correctional Center was arrested Tuesday, along with another former prison employee, four days after she allegedly had sexual relations with a male inmate, prison officials said.  Bethany Bondenheim, 30, of 5 Porter St. was charged with one count of gross sexual assault. She allegedly engaged in a sexual act with a prisoner Friday, according to prison Superintendent Scott Burnheimer. She was arrested at her home by Paris police, who had a warrant issued by Portland District Court, an Oxford County Jail spokesman said. She was booked at the jail in Paris.  April Archer, 37, was a medical technician at the facility, Burnheimer said. She allegedly engaged in sexual acts with a male prisoner on five separate occasions in July. The trafficking charges were "concerning medications," Burnheimer said.  In both instances, prisoners were called from their dorms to report to the areas where the women worked, he said.  The alleged sexual conduct of both prison employees was reported by other workers, Burnheimer said. Bondenheim and Archer were contract employees. Many specialty services at prisons are contracted through large companies, Burnheimer said.  Bondenheim came to the prison through a company called Spectrum Behavioral Services, Burnheimer said. He was not sure where the company is based.  Archer was contracted through Correctional Medical Services of St. Louis, he said.  (Sun Journal)

April 28, 2003
The state's prison system has a new health care provider, the same one used by the Cumberland County Jail.  Correctional Medical Services Inc. of St. Louis was selected early this month, officials announced Friday.  The state will pay the company $11 million to provide 15 months of medical and dental care to Maine's approximately 2,100 adult and juvenile residents at eight facilities.  With options for renewal, the contract could extend through 2008.  The contract ends a search for a new health care provider that began in December, after an adult showed the provider at the time, Prison Health Services, was falling short of its requirements and was losing money at the same time.  In March, the company lost a verdict in a case of an inmate death.  The family of the inmate, who hanged himself in the Lake County Jail in Waukegan, Ill., won a $1.75 million verdict.  (Press Herald)

Maine Department of Corrections
Apr 18, 2017 sunjournal.com
Prison transport company denies mistreatment; DAs seek alternatives
LEWISTON — A private prisoner transport company used for years by Maine prosecutors to extradite prisoners back to this state has denied it mistreated a Lewiston inmate during a five-day trip from Florida to Maine in November. Maine's district attorneys are seeking alternative sources for those extraditions. In a letter (see related story) from Prisoner Transport Services to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, an internal affairs investigator at the company addressed allegations of the neglect and mistreatment of Meghan Quinn, 34, that were featured in a Sun Journal special investigative report published March 26. "Based on the allegations in this complaint there (are) no findings that U.S. Prisoner Transport personnel violated policy and procedures and/or any U.S.P.T. standard operating procedures," Lt. Christopher M. Snow, investigator for internal affairs at the company, summarized in his four-page report. "Although the conditions during transport may have been unpleasant, they did not amount to deprivation and is only the opinion of offender Quinn and that U.S.P.T personnel acted in good faith." The company's president and general counsel, Joel Brasfield, told the Sun Journal by phone Friday that he considers the matter closed. "We stand by our findings," he said. Brasfield declined to comment on the Sun Journal's reporting, including a harrowing account of Quinn and another inmate, except to say he had not been aware of a problem until the Sun Journal's story was published. The Sun Journal also had reported that district attorneys in Southern and Central Maine had halted their use of that transport company after learning of the allegations by Quinn and David Bowden, 45, of Bangor as chronicled by the Sun Journal. In January, the newspaper filed a request for records from the company regarding Quinn's transport. Brasfield said he "had two lawyers look at it and they do not believe we are required to give a response — at all." The Sun Journal filed its request citing Maine and Florida right-to-know laws that mandate private companies comply with those laws if they are acting as agents of a public entity by performing a service that would otherwise be performed by a public agency. Not responding within five days of a freedom of information request is a clear violation of the law. Brasfield said: "We're not prepared to share any of our documents with you at this point." Androscoggin County District Attorney Andrew Robinson, whose office had contracted with U.S. Prisoner Transport for Quinn's extradition, said Friday the company's letter fails to answer all of the questions his office has about Quinn's transport. The company's letter has been shared with five other Maine district attorneys whose offices had used the services of U.S. Prisoner Transport for extraditions, he said. Two district attorneys in Maine said they don't use private prisoner transport services. "At this point," Robinson said, "We're not scheduling any new transports with them until we're satisfied that (allegations made by Quinn and Bowden) did not occur." The six county prosecutors who had used the transport company are planning to meet to discuss other options for extraditing those prisoners whom they would in the past have had transported by the Florida-based company, Robinson said. Instead of each county going it alone, Robinson said, discussion is likely to include: "Is there a way we can coordinate our resources to make it easier on all of us, but we haven't had that meeting, so I don't have the answer to that yet. I have some ideas." None of the prosecutors have decided to continue to use or resume using U.S. Prisoner Transport's services after viewing the company's internal affairs letter, Robinson said. He declined to comment on the contents of the company's investigation and its conclusions, saying he preferred to wait until he and fellow prosecutors had a chance to meet and discuss the four-page letter. "If we can find a legitimate alternative and we all decide that we're not satisfied with the report, we'll proceed with the alternative," Robinson said. "If, after looking at the report and speaking as a group we decide we have questions and want to meet with the president of the company, then we should do that also." Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, whose office contracted with U.S. Prisoner Transport to perform 21 of that county's 40 extraditions last year, suspended all future contracts with the company after reading the Sun Journal report on March 26. Anderson said in an email Friday that she had reviewed the company's recent letter. "We are looking into two other companies and will give one of those a try for an extradition from North Carolina that will be coming up in a couple of weeks," she wrote. Matthew Forster, district attorney for Hancock and Washington counties, wrote in an email to the Sun Journal that, after reviewing the company's letter, he concluded that, "with the information I have, I am not comfortable using (U.S.) Prisoner Transport." Foster noted a "dearth of information" contained in the letter. "It has not changed my decision about the use of their services," he wrote, though that decision could change if more information were to "come to light." He said his office hasn't identified any alternative transport services to take the place of the private contractor, other than the U.S. Marshals Service. Christopher Almy, district attorney for Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, said he, also, had read the company's letter from its internal investigation of Quinn's account of her five-day trip. "The incident was disconcerting as reported," he wrote in an email. "We have not yet had to hire PTS since that time. The company has responded to the allegations. We are still deliberating on whether to use PTS again." Geoffrey Rushlau, district attorney for Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties, said his office had used U.S. Prisoner Transport for extraditions for "quite a number of years," but had considered looking elsewhere largely due to price increases, even before he learned of the Sun Journal's report on Quinn's transport experience. He said the company's service "had gotten more impersonal." The Florida company had, for years, gained a reputation for being "very responsive. They provided good service and they were reasonably priced." He said he hadn't been made aware of any complaints about prisoner conditions during transport with them. But more recently, his office's experience with the company, since it had been acquired by Prisoner Transportation Services LLC of Tennessee, "had not been as positive. We were trying to figure out if that was something we could work with and make it more positive. But we're prepared to look elsewhere if there were other options. We're not sure if there are other options that are particularly good," Rushlau said. He pointed to the U.S. Marshals Service as an option his office has used before. "That's a good way to go, sometimes" he said. For extraditions closer to home, he said, his office will tap local law enforcement agencies as long as the transport isn't too distant. If the extraditions would require a trip farther than upstate New York, they wouldn't be as cost-efficient to hire local agencies, he said. "We will continue to look at other options if any of them look reasonable to use," he said. Asked whether he would use U.S. Prisoner Transport again if an alternative can't be found, Rushlau said: "I don't know. A lot of it will depend upon timing and cost." Prisoner conditions during transport is one of several elements his office would consider in choosing who should be entrusted with extraditions, Rushlau said. Other factors include security, training and qualifications of personnel and safety. "That's what we've always looked for," he said.

March 18, 2013 bangordailynews
MACHIAS, Maine — A decision to outsource meal preparation at the Washington County Jail has been reversed after it was discovered that cost savings were grossly overstated by a former jail administrator, according to the sheriff. “We were misled,” Sheriff Donnie Smith told the county commissioners last week. Although the commissioners originally felt the move could save money and approved hiring the food service company Aramark to provide jail meals, Smith said the figures provided last December by then-Capt. Robert Gross, were incorrect. He said Gross’s figures were questioned by a former cook before a contract was signed with Aramark. Gross, 62, of East Machias resigned in January, one day before the commissioners were to act on his termination following a mismanagement scandal involving inmate funds. A second employee, former jail clerk Karina Richardson, 50, of East Machias also was accused of mismanaging inmate funds and was terminated. She is currently appealing that decision and the Maine attorney general’s office is conducting an ongoing investigation into the scope of the mismanagement. At a Dec. 13 meeting, Gross told the commissioners that the current cost per meal was $4.68 and that Aramark provide meals for $3.99 per meal. Gross estimated the cost savings would have been $30,000 a year. Smith told the commissioners last week, however, that it appears jail meals are being prepared for only $1.16 per meal. Smith said he has launched a full audit of meal costs so a final determination can be made. He said that since the cost discrepancy was first discovered, the County Manager Betsy Fitzgerald had notified Aramark that the contract would not be signed. “We are putting this on hold at the very least until we can get a handle on the actual food costs,” Smith said.

January 6, 2012 MPBN
The president of the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said a state agency review of a company that provides medical services to Maine prison inmates documented problems that rise to "a systemic constitutional dimension." John Patterson, of the Maine ACLU, said a report by the Legislature's Office of Program Evaluation and Accountability concludes that the Corizon's medical services corporation maintained poor medical records and were not fulfilling contractual obligations. One key state lawmaker said Corizon's contract should not be considered for renewal. Last year's review of the state's contract with Corizon produced some of the most dramatic findings ever identified by the agency. The company that oversees the delivery of medical services at most Maine prison facilities was found to have failed to adequately fulfill many of its contractual obligations. The report concluded that 50% of Corizon's medication records were in error and that records could not even be found for nearly 10% of the prisoners treated. Staff training was insufficient according to the OPEGA report which said many of the prisoners never received their annual physical exams. Now, after an eight-year relationship with the state, Corizon's $12 million annual contract may be in jeopardy and for the first time, the company will have to compete with other firms for the state's business. "My question to you is in light of this history, why should the state seriously be considering any proposal your company might make to get this contract back again?" asked state Senator Roger Katz (R-Augusta). He posed some pointed questions to Larry Amberger, the regional vice-president for Corizon who spent an uncomfortable part of the morning being grilled by panelists from the Office of Program Evaluation and Accountability. Amberger insisted that even the OPEGA report indicated that Corizon was providing "more than adequate care" for Maine's prisoners. And although Amberger acknowledged there were areas of concern he questioned the methodology used by OPEGA investigators who found so many errors. Amberger said that if one of the company reports failed to have every checkbox cell filled out on the form, it was dismissed by the investigators as erroneous. "So based on one blank potentially, in a form that might nevcessarily require 300 of these cells to be completed, they then said there wasn't a documentation," Amberger said. Judy Garvey, co-coordinator with Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, said her agency has received dozens of complaints from state prisoners complaining of inadequate medical treatment -- including one man with a long-standing serious medical history. "For the past 18 months, he has been experiencing sharp pains in his left kidney," Garvey said. "He is told by Corizon that there are other inmates with higher needs than his...to be patient. How many men or their wives and partners in this room would be content with so little hope of receiving treatment or attention if diagnosed with a prostrate problem of this magnitude?" "Prisoners have a constitutional legal right under the eighth amendment to receive timely and adequate mental health care," said John Patterson of the Maine Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment on convicted prisoners which has been interpreted to include deliberate indifference to basic human needs, such as medical care." John Patterson is president of the Maine ACLU. He said the state is denying prisoners their constitutional rights to medical care based on the findings of the OPEGA report. Severin Belliveau, a Hallowell lawyer and State House lobbyist representing Corizon said patient confidentiality prevented his client from addressing some of the specific prisoner concerns that were detailed at the public hearing. "Some of the cases that our people heard about this morning, the medical director said he's very familiar with them, can't talk about it and I think they're misrepresented in many ways as to what the true treatment was," Belliveau said. After years of receiving a non-competitive state contract, Corizon will now have to bid against other companies to provide medical services to prisoners as the result of action taken by Governor Paul LePage (R). Senator Katz said he personally would be disappointed if Corizon won the bid based on the company's performance.

February 15, 2011 Kennebec Journal
The Maine Senate today voted 34-0 to confirm Joseph Ponte to become the new commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Ponte, 64, has spent more than 40 years in corrections, including 21 years with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the last eight in private corrections with the Corrections Corp. of America.

February 15, 2011 Maine Today
A legislative committee voted 10-2 Monday to endorse Gov. Paul LePage's nominee to lead the state Department of Corrections. Joseph Ponte, 64, of Pahrump, Nev., has worked in prison systems for 33 years. Most recently, he worked for the private Corrections Corp. of America as a prison warden in Nevada. The Massachusetts native told Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee members that he wants to return to New England to be nearer to his family. Democrats said they were concerned that Ponte owns stock shares in the Corrections Corp., the country's largest private-sector corrections company. The company, which is represented by lobbyist and former Maine House Minority Leader Josh Tardy, has said it might be interested in opening a facility in Milo. The corporation also donated money to the Republican Governors Association, which transferred the money to its Maine political action committee. The PAC supported LePage. Ponte said Monday that if confirmed by the Maine Senate, he will sell his shares in the company. "If confirmed, I will divest myself of any stock holdings in CCA," he said. He also assured the committee that neither he nor LePage has any interest in privatizing state jail or prison facilities. He emphasized that the bulk of his career has been spent in public systems – including 21 years in Massachusetts – and that he has been employed by CCA for only the past eight years.

January 25, 2011 Maine Public Broadcasting Network
The governor's choice to run the state Department of Corrections is also under scrutiny in Augusta. Veteran members of the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee have met privately with Joseph Ponte and are expressing concerns over his ties to a private corporation that runs prisons across the country. State Sen. Stan Gerzovsky and Rep. Anne Haskell also take issue with some of the governor's sweeping characterizations of Maine's corrections system. After accepting $25,000 dollars in contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from the Corrections Corporation of America, Gov. Paul LePage relied on an interesting choice of words as he described his professed goals for the state corrections department: "I'm looking to take the politics out of our prisons," LePage said. In presenting Joseph Ponte as his choice to become the next state corrections commissioner, LePage insisted there was no quid pro quo from a corporation that donated to his campaign, and his nominee, who has spent the last four years working as a warden with CCA, a company that has defended its reputation against investigations into prisoner abuses and, in some instances, prisoner deaths. State Rep. Anne Haskell, a Portland Democrat, says Maine's corrections department has been remarkably unpolitical -- until now. "The only political part of this has been the part where CCA is a very politically active organization, and so I think the governor is bringing it in--instead of removing it," Haskell says. LePage says the politics he's referring to are rooted in the the high turnover and burn-out rate among new corrections officers at the Maine State Prison who are assigned the most difficult prisoners and undesirable shifts as the result of policies negotiated with the officers' collective bargaining units. "Those who have been there the longest get the sweet shifts, and so we need someone that can go in there and take a look at it," he says. "We've got to make it more equitable and fair for everyone, and I think we'll have a better chance of keeping our personnel." But state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, a Brunswick Democrat, says the same employment policies that the governor used when he managed the Mardens' chain of salvage stores would likely apply to the state prison system as well. "I would think that seniority--whether you're working for the Maine State Prison System or Mardens--gives a better choice on shifts and jobs that you're going to hold," Gerzofsky says. The governor has also drawn attention for other comments about the state correctional system. "You know, prisons should not be a country club," he said yesterday. "I don't believe that we should have a system where people look forward to going to." Gov. LePage says he doesn't really know whether the Maine State Prison is a country club, but he says that Maine's per capita expenses on its corrections system are among the highest in the nation and that's a statistic he wants to change. State Rep. Anne Haskell, a former chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, says the per capita costs are driven by Maine's small population and that as a percentage of its total budget, Maine ranks about 47th in the nation on corrections spending. "I think it really reflects the fact that the governor is early in his administration, without an opportunity to having gone to the prisons and had a chance to talk with them, meet with them and learn something about the finances there," Haskell says. Haskell says she also has concerns about the fact that Joseph Ponte continues to hold stock in his former employer, Corrections Corporation of America, and because LePage has expressed interest in locating a private prison in Maine to hold out-of-state inmates. Although LePage insists he has no interest in privatizing the state's system, Haskell says there's a potential conflict due to Ponte's investment holdings. "It stretches the imagination to think that if we had a private facility here that the governor wouldn't be making recommendations about whether or not this was a better model," Haskell says. Haskell and Gerzofsky say they would be happier if Ponte agreed to divest himself of CCA stock that he currently holds as part of his pension package--an option that, for the moment, the nominee has stated he will not consider. Haskell says the potential for conflicts for Ponte would be significant should CCA locate in Maine.

Maine Medical Center
Cumberland County, Maine
Correctional Medical Services

January 6, 2011 Portland Press Herald
A Buxton woman whose son died in the Cumberland County Jail two years ago has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the jail, its medical services contractor and Maine Medical Center. Paul Victor Galambos III, 26, died on Dec. 12, 2008, in a cell in the jail's medical unit. The lawsuit, filed by Katherine Cady in federal court, alleges that the jail's medical staff failed to properly treat Galambos for psychosis, and failed to protect him as he battered himself against the floor, walls and toilet in his cell over the course of three days. When Galambos was taken to Maine Med on Dec. 10, 2008, he had a spinal fracture, rib fractures, bruises, head injuries and excessive fluid around his right lung, according to the lawsuit. He was returned to the jail the next day to await transportation to the state psychiatric hospital in Augusta. He collapsed and died in his cell, from blood clots that had developed in his legs as a result of his injuries. The state Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a suicide. Over the next two years, Cady and her sister, attorney Linda Cady of Yarmouth, gathered records and notes from Maine Med, the jail and Correctional Medical Services Inc., the St. Louis-based contractor that has provided health services at the jail since 2001. Based on those records, the family contends that Galambos' death was foreseeable and preventable.

Maine Legislature
January 9, 2012 AP
A bill to allow a privately run prison in Maine, carried over from last year's session, appears headed to the dead files. The bill last year won support from some lawmakers in the Milo area, but not enough to pass. But it was carried over to this year's session to address the issue of Maine's aging prison population. Democratic Sen. Stanley Gerzofsky of Brunswick saw the bill as a way to authorize a private prison company to open a facility that cares for Maine's increasing number of aging long-term prisoners who need special care. Gerzofsky says the state prisons aren't designed to be long-term nursing care facilities. On Monday, Gerzofsky said no companies are interested in providing that special service, so he's prepared to ask that the bill be killed.

May 4, 2011 New Maine Times
The lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America chose his words carefully when he described what CCA wants from the state if it is to build a new prison in the beleaguered Piscataquis County town of Milo. While it has been generally acknowledged that CCA backed off its interest in building a Milo facility because current Maine law forbids the state’s prisoners to be sent to private prisons, like those run by CCA, lobbyist James Mitchell of Mitchell Tardy assured a legislative panel Friday there had been no quid pro quo. “The company has not indicated that it is a necessity for Maine to do business with the company in order for them to consider Maine as a potential site,” said Mitchell. But he quickly added that CCA had said in previous meetings with state officials that it “would potentially be useful for the state to build a business relationship with CCA as part of a means to encourage them to potentially locate in Maine.” The assertion that there was no quid pro quo contradicted the statements of legislators and Milo town officials, who recounted how the town’s lengthy courtship of the Tennessee-based corporation stalled after the Legislature last session failed to enact a bill from Gov. John Baldacci that would have facilitated Maine prisoner transfers to private facilities. “Part of the reason that CCA didn’t want to come is Maine had no prisoners going to them,” said Rep. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville. Milo Town Manager Jeff Gahagan also stressed that CCA had backed off its plan to build the prison because of Maine’s present policy barring transfer to private prisons. CCA, the largest operator of private prisons in the United States, has backed its interest in Maine with a $25,000 campaign contribution to the Republican Governors’ Association in support of Paul LePage. In December, as governor-elect, LePage met with CCA officials to indicate his continued support of the prison plan. The discussion about CCA came at a hearing Friday in front of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on a bill that would authorize the transfer of prisoners to private facilities, removing what its sponsor described as a barrier to the potential new prison in Milo. “This bill is about jobs for a town that desperately needs them,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Douglas Thomas, R-Somerset, who recited a litany of lost jobs in the paper, railroad, and shoe industries in the hard-hit town. Thomas told committee members that Milo, which also suffered a devastating downtown fire in 2008 and has an 11 percent unemployment rate, desperately needs the jobs that the prison would provide. “I get excited about $18-an-hour jobs in that area,” said Thomas. But Will Towers, an official with the Maine correctional officers union, cautioned that salaries at a Milo prison would likely start at much less than $18 an hour. He said CCA prisons in Tennessee are paying $9 an hour. Activists, religious leaders question prisons for profit The concept of private prisons, and the record of CCA and other private prison companies, drew fire from several speakers, including Marc Mutty, representing the Roman Catholic bishop of Maine. “Prisoners do not lose their humanity when they enter custody,” said Mutty. “Private prisons create a moral question, and we are troubled that private prisons in other states have cut staff to increase profits. There is an incentive to incarcerate people for longer periods of time.”

February 15, 2011 Kennebec Journal
The Maine Senate today voted 34-0 to confirm Joseph Ponte to become the new commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Ponte, 64, has spent more than 40 years in corrections, including 21 years with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the last eight in private corrections with the Corrections Corp. of America.

February 15, 2011 Maine Today
A legislative committee voted 10-2 Monday to endorse Gov. Paul LePage's nominee to lead the state Department of Corrections. Joseph Ponte, 64, of Pahrump, Nev., has worked in prison systems for 33 years. Most recently, he worked for the private Corrections Corp. of America as a prison warden in Nevada. The Massachusetts native told Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee members that he wants to return to New England to be nearer to his family. Democrats said they were concerned that Ponte owns stock shares in the Corrections Corp., the country's largest private-sector corrections company. The company, which is represented by lobbyist and former Maine House Minority Leader Josh Tardy, has said it might be interested in opening a facility in Milo. The corporation also donated money to the Republican Governors Association, which transferred the money to its Maine political action committee. The PAC supported LePage. Ponte said Monday that if confirmed by the Maine Senate, he will sell his shares in the company. "If confirmed, I will divest myself of any stock holdings in CCA," he said. He also assured the committee that neither he nor LePage has any interest in privatizing state jail or prison facilities. He emphasized that the bulk of his career has been spent in public systems – including 21 years in Massachusetts – and that he has been employed by CCA for only the past eight years.

January 25, 2011 Maine Public Broadcasting Network
The governor's choice to run the state Department of Corrections is also under scrutiny in Augusta. Veteran members of the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee have met privately with Joseph Ponte and are expressing concerns over his ties to a private corporation that runs prisons across the country. State Sen. Stan Gerzovsky and Rep. Anne Haskell also take issue with some of the governor's sweeping characterizations of Maine's corrections system. After accepting $25,000 dollars in contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from the Corrections Corporation of America, Gov. Paul LePage relied on an interesting choice of words as he described his professed goals for the state corrections department: "I'm looking to take the politics out of our prisons," LePage said. In presenting Joseph Ponte as his choice to become the next state corrections commissioner, LePage insisted there was no quid pro quo from a corporation that donated to his campaign, and his nominee, who has spent the last four years working as a warden with CCA, a company that has defended its reputation against investigations into prisoner abuses and, in some instances, prisoner deaths. State Rep. Anne Haskell, a Portland Democrat, says Maine's corrections department has been remarkably unpolitical -- until now. "The only political part of this has been the part where CCA is a very politically active organization, and so I think the governor is bringing it in--instead of removing it," Haskell says. LePage says the politics he's referring to are rooted in the the high turnover and burn-out rate among new corrections officers at the Maine State Prison who are assigned the most difficult prisoners and undesirable shifts as the result of policies negotiated with the officers' collective bargaining units. "Those who have been there the longest get the sweet shifts, and so we need someone that can go in there and take a look at it," he says. "We've got to make it more equitable and fair for everyone, and I think we'll have a better chance of keeping our personnel." But state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, a Brunswick Democrat, says the same employment policies that the governor used when he managed the Mardens' chain of salvage stores would likely apply to the state prison system as well. "I would think that seniority--whether you're working for the Maine State Prison System or Mardens--gives a better choice on shifts and jobs that you're going to hold," Gerzofsky says. The governor has also drawn attention for other comments about the state correctional system. "You know, prisons should not be a country club," he said yesterday. "I don't believe that we should have a system where people look forward to going to." Gov. LePage says he doesn't really know whether the Maine State Prison is a country club, but he says that Maine's per capita expenses on its corrections system are among the highest in the nation and that's a statistic he wants to change. State Rep. Anne Haskell, a former chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, says the per capita costs are driven by Maine's small population and that as a percentage of its total budget, Maine ranks about 47th in the nation on corrections spending. "I think it really reflects the fact that the governor is early in his administration, without an opportunity to having gone to the prisons and had a chance to talk with them, meet with them and learn something about the finances there," Haskell says. Haskell says she also has concerns about the fact that Joseph Ponte continues to hold stock in his former employer, Corrections Corporation of America, and because LePage has expressed interest in locating a private prison in Maine to hold out-of-state inmates. Although LePage insists he has no interest in privatizing the state's system, Haskell says there's a potential conflict due to Ponte's investment holdings. "It stretches the imagination to think that if we had a private facility here that the governor wouldn't be making recommendations about whether or not this was a better model," Haskell says. Haskell and Gerzofsky say they would be happier if Ponte agreed to divest himself of CCA stock that he currently holds as part of his pension package--an option that, for the moment, the nominee has stated he will not consider. Haskell says the potential for conflicts for Ponte would be significant should CCA locate in Maine.

December 15, 2010 Portland Phoenix
In the gubernatorial campaign the controversial Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison operator, spent $25,000 on behalf of Republican candidate Paul LePage, now the governor-elect. The money was given to the Republican Governors Association's Maine political action committee, which spent heavily on LePage. No other Maine gubernatorial candidate benefited from CCA money, campaign-finance reports reveal. Although his transition office denies a link with the contribution, LePage has already met in Augusta with CCA representatives — weeks before becoming governor. The meeting breathed new life into the town of Milo's effort to lure CCA into building a giant prison in that remote, impoverished Piscataquis County community. Milo officials also met with LePage. The town manager, Jeff Gahagan, says CCA officials have talked about a prison housing 2000 to 2400 inmates with 200 to 300 employees. If true, that would be an extraordinarily small number of staff for such a large number of prisoners. The Maine State Prison has just over 400 workers — most of them guards — to deal with just over 900 prisoners. (CCA didn't respond by deadline to the Phoenix's inquiries.) LePage also is looking into boarding Maine inmates in CCA prisons out of state.