A Windham man has been charged with providing the deadly dose of drugs that killed an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail in August.

James Ryan Mannion was found unresponsive in his cell on Aug. 14.

James Mannion had been jailed since December 2021 on drug charges when he was found unresponsive in his cell on Aug. 14. This month, a Cumberland County grand jury indicted Peter Curtis, 35, who also was incarcerated at the time, on charges that he provided Mannion with the fentanyl powder that allegedly killed him.

Curtis was charged with aggravated furnishing of a scheduled drug, trafficking in prison contraband and unlawful possession of a scheduled drug, all felonies. The furnishing charge, a Class B felony, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The other charges are Class C, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Curtis was still incarcerated when he was indicted and was given $100,000 bail at his arraignment on Nov. 18. He pleaded not guilty.

Curtis’ attorney, Matthew Crockett, declined to comment on the case Wednesday, which he said is still in its earliest stages.

Before his 2021 arrest, Mannion found success in sobriety and worked as a barber. An attorney representing Mannion’s two young daughters said she is investigating whether the jail in Portland had a duty to provide Mannion with healthcare and treatment for his substance use disorder. She said treatment might have prevented his death.


“This was a man who had a known drug addiction and needed help, and there’s questions about whether he was protected in a way that he should have been, and whether he was provided the healthcare he needed as a result of being addicted,” attorney Alexis Garmey Chardon said.

“James was a person who had experienced a lot of success being sober, and I think there’s a lot of reasons to think he would be able to do that again. Which is why this is particularly tragic.”

So far, five people have died at the jail in 2022: Michael Hansen died on May 12, William Tucker on June 4, Kevin Whitford on July 6, and Richard Putze on Nov. 9.

Jail deaths have risen across the country this year – including in larger cities like New York City, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Louisville, Kentucky – and jail officials have largely attributed the increase to overcrowding, staff shortages and mental health issues tied to the pandemic, the New York Times reported.

The Cumberland County Jail has battled those same issues. Citing staffing shortages, the sheriff closed off the intake of new inmates for all but the most serious offenses, which include severe violence, domestic violence, warrants of arrest and assaults on a police officer. And federal authorities pulled their inmates out of the jail in September following an annual audit that said the jail wasn’t meeting federal staffing standards.

One inmate’s attorney told the Press Herald that he’s been fighting for years to get his client a proper mental health evaluation after he’s spent more than two years in solitary confinement.


Portland police said they arrested Mannion after they were dispatched to a gas station on Congress Street. People had called to say that a man had fallen asleep behind the wheel of a car at a gas pump, the responding officers said in their report.

Mannion appeared to be asleep in the passenger seat. Police found a hypodermic needle, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl in the vehicle, officers wrote.

Mannion’s bail was set at $50,000. Weeks after his arrest, he wrote the court asking for his bail to be reduced. He said he wanted to seek treatment for his substance use disorder.

“I personally have two beautiful daughters … who deserve an active and most importantly sober father figure in their lives,” he wrote.

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