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Report: 5 Maine corrections officers keep jobs despite disparaging private chat

maine state prison.jpeg
Ashley L. Conti
via the Bangor Daily News
The Maine State Prison in Warren.

Five corrections officers have kept their jobs after Maine Department of Corrections officials uncovered a private Facebook chat in which the officers disparaged residents of the Maine State Prison, joked about use of force and shared confidential information, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Four other officers avoided formal discipline and resigned. A tenth person left the prison in 2020 before the DOC became aware of the chat. According to the BDN, that person is now a police officer in Lewiston.

Joseph Jackson, director of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, says the case illustrates the disconnect between the kinds of systemic abuse that occur in prison and the positive changes the department says it has made to improve prison culture.

"This chat seems to be indicative of the public face and what the department says it's doing in public and the actual policies and practices incarcerated individuals are subjected to," he says.

Jackson says the DOC's decision not to fire anyone shows how desperate they are to keep staff.

"The other thing that it says is the Department of Corrections really stands behind its people when it believes in them and that it stands up for its own even when these folks are in violation of the very policies and practices the Department of Corrections has implemented," he says.

Jackson says his organization will be following up with the DOC to ask how this kind of activity will be avoided in the future. He says the Facebook chat was discovered after a resident heard some corrections officers talking. The BDN was able to obtain a copy of the chat that covered a two-year period.

In a written statement, the Maine DOC says it "prioritizes respect and integrity ... and will continue to underscore that staff must conduct themselves in accordance with these values."