Maine’s Department of Corrections has proposed a 26-page amendment to its prisoner discipline policy. It provides that unauthorized correspondence with a pen pal, with the media, or with the outside world, for that matter, will all be a Class B or C offense, punishable by extended periods of isolation and fines of $50 or $75.

It’s taken 200 years to cement the right to freedom of speech. But we’ve only begun to understand and appreciate the wisdom of less solitary confinement and isolation for prisoners, not more; of less blanket incarceration, not more; and of the greater likelihood that meaningful redemption and re-assimilation will result from more interaction with humanity, not less; from humanity itself; and from programs like Restorative Justice that aim realistically for rehabilitation, not revenge.

This unconstitutional proposal apparently results from some prisoners having received colored paper mail on which Suboxone strips had been superimposed.

I hate to think that the Corrections Department’s limited powers of invention will not allow it to come up with a solution to this problem that is more imaginative than prohibiting communication with the outside world.

Phil Crossman