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Due Process: Inside Maine’s County Courthouses

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Seven months ago, The Maine Monitor set out to determine whether Maine’s county court system was fair and consistent from one part of the state to another. Would someone convicted of a crime in Aroostook County get the same sentence as someone in York County? What seemed like a simple question turned out to be complicated by a lack of consistent data, elected district attorneys with different approaches to justice and programs that have proven to be successful for some but unavailable to others.

We are examine the criminal justice system at a time when there’s appetite for major change. With a low crime rate and relatively few violent crimes, Maine could become a place for innovation when it comes to the treatment of those with mental illness, substance use disorder or trauma that sometimes leads to crime. Our series looks at the system – successes and failures – to test whether defendants and victims can rely on it to give them due process.

Tony Pushard, Due Process

Due Process: In Review

Five key findings from The Maine Monitor’s months-long investigation into the state’s county court system.

Latest Articles

Legislative Limbo

Legislative Limbo

More than 400 pieces of Maine legislation are in limbo, including measures to reform the state’s criminal justice system, following the sudden adjournment of the Legislature last week because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus. There is urgency to decide on these bills before new representatives are elected in November.

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A reminder to avoid a remand?

A reminder to avoid a remand?

More than 9,000 people are incarcerated in Maine jails every year for one simple reason: They didn’t show up for their court date. Advocates say a text message system that would send court date reminders to defendants’ cell phones could help reduce that number. Others say a paper reminder should be enough.

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A district divided

A district divided

Washington County officials, feeling neglected by the district attorney they share with Hancock County, want their own prosecutorial district to help address the growth of drug-related offenses. The unequal relationship between the counties highlights a disparity in Maine’s district court system.

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The data void in Maine courts

The data void in Maine courts

An e-filing and case management system, scheduled for full installation by 2022, will provide access to data for judicial officials and state legislators seeking to determine where resources are needed.

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When bail doesn’t work

When bail doesn’t work

Efforts to eliminate cash bail are being considered in the legislative and judicial branches as Maine examines ways to reform its criminal justice system.

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The prosecutor’s power

The prosecutor’s power

Through plea bargains, mandatory minimums and growing political clout, Maine’s DAs wield plenty of power in an increasingly inconsistent judicial system.

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Authors & Contributors

Gabe Souza

An Emmy Award-winning cinematographer and photographer, Gabe spent five years on staff at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has worked for a variety of editorial clients. Over the past 10 years, he has captured images in over 19 countries, spanning five continents. The first photographer to win the National Press Club Award, Gabe has a passion for telling compelling stories through images. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post, and many more publications. Gabe co-owns a 1985 BMW 325 race car named “Wilhelm,” has a borderline unhealthy obsession with coffee, and is determined to watch a game in every Major League Baseball ballpark before the age of 30. He has 3 years and 16 ballparks to go.


Julie Pike

Ryan David Brown

Susan Cover

Susan Cover has been a journalist for 24 years, working at newspapers in Kansas, Rhode Island, Ohio and Maine. In 2002, Susan moved to Maine to cover state government and spent 10 years in the Statehouse Bureau working for the Kennebec Journal. She covered state budgets, hundreds of bills, and referenda campaigns including bear baiting and marriage equality. In 2013, Susan was promoted to city editor at the Kennebec Journal, leading a team of reporters and photographers to put out each day’s paper. Susan is a graduate of Muskingum University in Ohio and has a master’s degree in newspaper journalism from Syracuse University. Most recently, Susan left daily newspaper journalism to pursue freelance writing and her other passion – taking run-down houses in Kennebec County and bringing them back to life. She lives in Augusta with her partner and their pets – Piper the cat and Wooley the dog.


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