Sunday, March 9, 2014
Kennebec Journal Staff
PORTLAND -- Lance Tapley of Augusta, a writer and advocate for prison reform, has been selected by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine to receive the 2012 Roger Baldwin Award.
"The ACLU of Maine is thrilled to honor Lance for his exceptional work in exposing conditions of confinement at the Maine State Prison," said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, in an announcement about Tapley's selection. "His advocacy became the catalyst for reforms that have helped make the prison safer for both prisoners and guards."
Tapley will be presented with the award Oct. 25 at the ACLU of Maine annual meeting and celebration at the University of Maine Wells Conference Center. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Tapley wrote stories between 2005 and 2009 alleging abuses at the Maine State Prison and encouraging the Legislature to ban solitary confinement.
In the spring of 2011, Commissioner Joseph Ponte of the Department of Corrections introduced reforms that reduced the use of solitary confinement, Bellows says in the statement. "Maine has become a model for other states on solitary reform. We would not be this far along without the reporting of Lance Tapley," it says.
Tapley is an award-winning freelance investigative and political writer for the Portland Phoenix and contributes to other publications. He wrote a chapter, "Mass Torture in America: Notes from the Supermax Prisons," in the book "The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration & Abuse," published by New York University Press.
He also has worked as a political organizer and book publisher and has taught at several Maine colleges.
Baldwin was an ardent activist for social justice who helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, and served as director until 1950.