Inmate Abuse in Portland, ME

3:42 PM Posted In , , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »

Over the weekend the Portland Press Herald reported on and released a video of Capt. Shawn Welch at the Maine Correction Center pepper-spraying a restrained inmate in the face and leaving him in distress for more than twenty minutes while he repeatedly pleaded that he could not breath. The inmate was reportedly recovering from a self-inflicted wound and on several medications for bipolar disorder and depression at the time when officers in protective gear placed him in a restraining chair for medical personnel to examine his wounds.
After he was physically restrained in the chair, he struggled as guards pinned his head under an arm, at which point Welch used a pepper spray canister intended for multiple subjects at a 18 to 20 feet range to spray the inmate in the face at close range. Welch was initially fired by the institution’s supervisor, but reinstated with a 30-day suspension by Maine Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte.
It gets worse.  The concern of officials is more on how the video got out, than of the treatment of a wounded, mentally ill inmate.
"Your possession of that indicates a breach of security on our part and we absolutely do need to look into that," said Associate Commissioner Jody Breton. "We certainly will be tightening up security -- where (information) is stored, who has access."
According to them, their concern isn't because it shows the callous treatment, but rather because it reveals sensitive information about the inmate.  Ok, I get that the inmate deserves privacy, but since the inquiry did not resolve nor punish those responsible, I think that the citizens deserve to know and to act upon this knowledge.