By LANCE TAPLEY | June 15, 2011
In a continuing shakeup at the troubled Maine State Prison, new Corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte has fired six top officials including its controversial security chief, Deputy Warden James O’Farrell. Prisoners, prison critics, and former employees had long complained that O’Farrell handled both inmates and staff callously.
The mass dismissal on June 10 came after a big security breach, the May 24 beating of inmate Lloyd Franklin Millet in the prison woodshop, allegedly at the hands of another inmate. Millet died on June 7 — the latest in a string of violent or suspicious inmate deaths in recent years.
Commissioner Ponte says the dismissals were made to save money and had “nothing to do” with the employees’ performance. He had long heard criticism, he says, “that there were too many department wardens and captains.” Besides O’Farrell, four guard captains and a training manager at the Warren facility were given pink slips, with two weeks’ notice.
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