I often tell people we have no permanent friends...or permanent enemies. We are partnering with our former opponents, Mark Mutty of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine and Bob Emrich of the Maine Jeremiah Project, to support the reduction of use and abuse of solitary confinement of prisoners here in Maine. We're doing that because the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment is rooted in a moral view that says everyone, even prisoners, deserves to be treated as human beings -- with dignity.
In Maine, we have a special management unit where prisoners are "segregated" from the general population for lengths of time that vary from days to months to even over a year. Make no mistake -- segregation is solitary confinement.
Yesterday I spoke in Steuben to a crowd of ACLU of MAINE members from Hancock and Washington counties. I talked about Guantanamo and the prisoners who continue to languish there without charge or trial, prisoners of war in a war without forseeable end. There's a relationship between our country's acceptance of prisoners kept for years without due process and subjected to inhumane treatment at Guantanamo and our acceptance of the way we treat prisoners in our own backyard.
If you are troubled by the practice of solitary confinement, please join us and the churches in a People of Conscience Day of Action in Augusta tomorrow, Tuesday, February 23 at 9 am in the Welcome Center of the Statehouse. All people of good conscience are welcome.
Featured speakers will include:
Reverend Richard Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture