This Sunday, the Monitor’s reporters provide an update on their most important stories from the first half of 2022.
A study group will review Maine jails’ and prisons’ policies and practices for monitoring prisoner phone calls. It follows an investigation by Maine Monitor reporter Samantha Hogan that found nearly 1,000 attorney-client calls were secretly recorded between June 2019 and May 2020 by county jails. Some recordings were distributed to prosecutors and law enforcement. The group will report back to the Legislature later this year about how states ensure prisoners have access to confidential communication with counsel.
Lawmakers also approved a last-minute, bipartisan budget deal this spring to hire the state’s first public defenders. Maine is the only state that employs no public defenders. A joint investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found the state routinely contracted with lawyers with histories of professional and criminal misconduct, and assigned some lawyers to cases they were not eligible to work on because of the seriousness of the charges. The dispatchable unit of five public defenders is expected to be hired in the coming months.
In March, the ACLU of Maine sued state officials, alleging they failed to create an effective public defense system in violation of some defendants’ constitutional rights, citing some of The Maine Monitor and ProPublica’s reporting.
A reader’s response to the inmate phone calls story: “You nailed it! Keep up the good work.”
Kate’s story on a proposal by the family behind Wreaths Across America to construct the world’s tallest flagpole as the centerpiece of a year-round, $1 billion park in Washington County had readers from around the state weighing in.
The proposed park would have a transformative impact on the area.
Several news outlets devoted valuable page space to the piece and ran it in full, and readers sent in a number of comments thanking The Monitor for its commitment to such vital work.
A reader’s response: “I just read your piece in the Monitor and it was incredibly informative for me . . . Anyways, thank you for the work you did on this. I learned a ton from you.”
Barbara A. Walsh
The voices of Maine’s young and aging transgender people are not often heard. National studies estimate there are nearly 6,000 adults 18 and older and 1,200 children aged 13-17 who identify as transgender in the state.
Due to the stigma and discrimination they face, transgender people have higher rates of suicide and depression.
As a record number of states passed anti-transgender laws across the country, The Maine Monitor sought to tell the stories of the state’s transgender people, and their struggle to be accepted and understood. We titled the series “The Journey to be Me.’’
A reader’s response: “As a trans person who feels pretty isolated in rural Maine, reading this collection of stories from fellow trans folks around Maine has really helped ease some of the loneliness.”
This year, Rose continued her coverage of nursing and healthcare, examining the shortages and stresses facing patients, workers and institutions in Maine.
Rose wrote about the difficulties in filling openings for public health nurses, an examination of the impact of the housing shortage on healthcare, a look at a troubled nursing home, and the shortage of recovery beds for uninsured Mainers being treated for substance misuse.
This spring, Gov. Janet Mills dedicated $21 million in 2022 to support training for healthcare careers, $3.5 million to keep two veterans homes open and $1.5 million to promote healthcare careers.
Rose’s story late last year about a rural community that lost its only nursing home was recognized for excellence in feature writing by Report for America, the national service organization that helps fund Rose, Kate and Samantha’s reporting positions.
A reader’s response to the story about addiction recovery beds: “Great story and it captures just the right tone and addresses the concerns and needs clearly. Thank you! We’re so appreciative.’’