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Stan Moody, former state representative and chaplain at the Maine State Prison, is the author of "Crisis in Evangelical Scholarship" and "McChurched: 300 Million Served and Still Hungry." He currently serves as pastor at the Meeting House Church in Manchester. His Web site is

  • Published
    April 7, 2010

    A pearl in the desert

    While it was my pleasure to serve for nearly two years as a chaplain at Maine State Prison, I was forced to conclude that religious programming, while serving as an outlet for prisoners and as a strengthening force in their daily lives, had limited value in developing the kind of life skills that serve the public’s interest in rehabilitation of criminals. The data offer little encouragement that religious …

  • Published
    March 17, 2010

    Your neighbor in prison

    As I watched the facial expressions of legislators while I was testifying on Maine’s so-called solitary confinement bill, LD1611, it was clear to me that they were struggling with how to rephrase their staid corrections mentality in the face of mounting evidence of its failure of logic and common sense. Dismissal of expert testimony on the adverse psychological and emotional effects of the loss of human dignity …

  • Published
    February 17, 2010

    Prison myth No. 5: ‘You don’t understand what we are up against’

    Maximum security prisons are designed for three purposes — to keep prisoners safe, to protect the public and to carry out a strategy of corrections. The problem arises when administrators and staff cross that thin line of adding punishment to their responsibilities and make personal judgments on the basis of a person’s crime. Punishment is the role of the courts; safekeeping and rehabilitation are the roles of …

  • Published
    February 3, 2010

    Prison myth No. 4: All prison guards are brutes

    Being a prison guard is a thankless job. The shroud of secrecy that envelopes a prison system feeds the public perception that guards are schoolyard bullies who never grew up. They cannot repair that image because the public never sees what really goes on there. You have to ride tall in the saddle to come to work every day, be faced with emergencies that demand the right action and know that you are there to …

  • Published
    January 20, 2010

    Prison myth No. 3: ‘Politics is the enemy’

    Following my recent column on “Corrections as a growth industry,” I received blistering e-mails from an employee at the Maine State Prison. It is her belief that blind duty is the high road (on which I reportedly bailed by abandoning my post as chaplain), and politics (defined as any kind of public discourse) is the low road. Here are a few excerpts from her observations: “Politics and exhibitionism has …

  • Published
    January 13, 2010

    Prison myth No. 2:  ‘You have to be a team player’

    As I write this article, it is 9:45 a.m. Christmas Day. I have been a team player in the give and take of gifts and good wishes. The game is over; team members are dispersing. It is time for reflection until the next group meeting in a couple of hours or, in the context of the publishing of this column, perhaps another year. Who were the great team players in human history? Certainly not Gandhi, the author of …

  • Published
    December 31, 2009

    Prison myth No. 1: ‘Prisoners want to go in to solitary confinement’

    It is not news that public opinion is stacked against those who have been convicted and incarcerated for a crime — any crime. Check the Internet blogs on notorious cases in Maine, and you will see a marked trend toward “lock him up and throw away the key.” Never do you read, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Prisons are, very simply, designed to keep the presumed incorrigible out of contact with the …

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