March 24, 2013

Letters to the editor: Story misrepresents guard's actions

Capt. Shawn Welch wasn't portrayed fairly in the story about the restrained inmate ("Prison captain fired, but later reinstated, after pepper spraying inmate," March 17). The inmate wasn't fully secured in the restraint chair when sprayed -- look closely at the photo.

click image to enlarge

Capt. Shawn Welch, a guard at the Maine Correctional Center, showed “professional leadership” during an incident in which he used pepper spray against a restrained inmate who had just spit on an officer, a reader says.

Inmates are informed of the rules when they're processed for incarceration, which this inmate chose to disregard, as he had done before, while knowing the consequences of his actions. Stop coddling inmates. They're incarcerated because of their own actions.

Employees at the Maine Correctional Center have extensive training and protocol in place to guide them in handling these situations. I don't feel there was taunting, just a repeated reminder of what the consequences of the inmate's continued behavior would be.

I agree that the suspension was justified, due to the comment made by Welch referencing a previous altercation, also brought on by the inmate's actions. His firing and the denial of his appeal by MCC Superintendent Scott Burnheimer were not surprising, due to house politics.

The inmate's mother should worry about her son's actions and be reminded that officers probably saved his sorry life previously that day. She should stop making excuses for her son, remembering why he was there.

The staff worked well together. I commend Capt. Welch on his professional leadership bringing this altercation to an end while maintaining the safety of all involved.

The system favors inmates' rights at the expense of staff, but those incidents never see the light of day. My husband retired as a captain from the MCC due to a severe injury by an inmate, and it wasn't the first time he was injured.

The rights of inmates and staff need to be reviewed. Meanwhile, stop making a mountain out of a molehill.

Lack of staff due to budget cuts causes safety concerns. Remember this when funding these facilities and stop trying to make things better or easier for inmates.

Consider the well-being of staff and their dangerous and stressful job. These inmates already have luxuries that a lot of the staff can't afford on what little they're paid.

Debra Williams


Planning, prevention key, whatever warming's cause

Recently, Richard Muller, one of the foremost critics of global warming, changed his mind, asserting now that global warming is real and adding that "humans are almost entirely the cause."

If that still doesn't satisfy the skeptics, consider several other facts:

There are more people on the planet now than ever before (more than 7,000,000,000 and counting).

They live more and more in urban, industrialized societies.

They create more pollution, much of which winds up in the environment.

If you assume that these facts have no impact on the globe, the corollary is that people don't need to take responsibility for their actions or consider the community at large rather than their own personal convenience.

Just the opposite is true, which is why it becomes imperative to explore alternative energy sources and reduce our negative effect on the world.

We can urge government officials to promote pollution-reducing technologies, and also act as individuals in three very simple ways by:

Separating trash and recycling. Many materials can be re-used to save time, money and energy.

Using less electricity produced by coal-fired power plants. Turn lights off and use efficient bulbs and Energy Star appliances.

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