The Unstoppable Ocean
Along Maine’s stunning coastline, vulnerable communities wrestle with the inevitable rise of the sea caused by the warming ocean. Each community has a different strategy to prepare and adapt.
Invisible and Indestructible
Eavesdropping in Maine Jails
Jailed defendants have a legal right to privately speak with their attorneys. Yet, in Maine, county jails are eavesdropping on these calls. Four jails recorded nearly 1,000 attorney-client calls in a single year and shared recordings with police and prosecutors before trial, a Maine Monitor investigation has found.
2020: A Class Dismissed
Born in the weeks and months after 9/11, and graduated in the year of a crippling pandemic, Maine’s high school seniors have lived through some of the most profound change our country has ever witnessed. These young adults missed out on cornerstone experiences that ease the transition from being a child to being an adult. We captured the stories of a class prematurely dismissed.
Maine PowerOptions, a quasi-state program bringing together municipalities, school districts and state nonprofits to purchase electricity in bulk, lacks transparency and effective oversight, an investigation found. Our stories and investigation raised questions about the group’s transparency, oversight and member benefits.
Born to Drugs
Nearly 5,000 babies have been born affected by drugs in Maine in the past five years. Nearly three drug-affected babies were born each day in Maine from 2013-2017, severely taxing hospitals, the foster care system and other resources. These innocent victims are caught in a crisis that is marked by suffering and strained hospitals and state resources. This series of often gut-wrenching stories examines the challenges within this sad reality.
The bail commissioner is an obscure but essential part of Maine’s criminal justice system, and critics say it is in need of serious updating. An investigation uncovered repeated shortcomings despite attempts to overhaul the system.
Deaths of Despair
In a remote corner of Maine that locals call ‘The Forgotten County,’ the pandemic triggered isolation, economic struggles and a surge in suicides and overdoses. Hindered by a lack of mental health resources, communities and schools in Washington County banded together to find help for those with anxiety, depression and despair. The Maine Monitor chronicled the heartbreaking losses in a county that seeks solace and solutions to prevent more tragedies.
An investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found more than a quarter of Maine attorneys disciplined in the past decade for serious professional misconduct were hired as lawyers for the poor. Sex crimes and felony convictions were among the most severe infractions overlooked. Defendants paid the price.
We examined 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 looked at the system – successes and failures – to test whether defendants and victims can rely on it to give them due process.
In October 2018, the newsroom examined Maine’s two U.S. House campaigns, the gubernatorial contest and State House elections in one of the most hotly contested midterm elections in recent history. The series included profiles of candidates and a look at five women from around Maine hoping to represent their communities.
Crime victims are nearly alone in navigating a confusing and understaffed restitution system. District attorneys are as frustrated as crime victims with the fundamental reality of the restitution system in Maine: it’s broken.
Follow The Money
Campaign spending provides one of the only concrete windows into party jockeying for power. The Maine Monitor examines and tracks how campaign fundraising and spending shapes the races for Maine’s federal and state offices using interactive data dashboards and data-driven storytelling.
The Immigrant Opportunity
Given that Maine is racing into an economic crisis because it doesn’t have enough workers for its jobs, we examined the role immigrants could have in solving Maine’s serious workforce needs. We moved away from the heated rhetoric that focuses on people who are in this country illegally and examined how immigrants who are cleared to work could help fill Maine’s employment gap.
The Journey to Be Me
The Last Responders
COVID-19 has triggered a grief epidemic. It has robbed families of final goodbyes, left loved ones to die with strangers, postponed wakes and funerals. And it has overwhelmed Maine’s “Last Responders” of priests, chaplains, funeral directors and hospice workers who must work around restrictions aimed at diminishing virus infections. These are stories of The Last Responders.
Lead Paint Danger
Childhood lead poisoning may be less talked about these days, but a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting investigation found it is still the No. 1 toxic health hazard for children. The problem is acute and persistent in parts of Maine, especially among poor and immigrant families.
Lottery: Selling Hope
Our series, Lottery: Selling Hope to the Hopeless, explores how Mainers falling on hard times rely on the lottery to rescue them. A first-ever statistical analysis of Maine lottery sales and census data by Cornell University, commissioned by us, showed lottery ticket sales rise when people lose their jobs. The state government spent millions to sway Mainers to buy more lottery tickets, we found.
Maine Trust Project
In our mistrust-filled world full of political contention, mustering the courage to have authentic conversations with people can be a challenge. Finding common ground and engaging in civil discourse about important issues facing our communities, our state, our country and our world can seem elusive, if not sadly impossible. We sat down with Maine residents to discuss this precious commodity.
In 2016 and 2017, our team established a database, Making Connections: A Guide to Maine Legislators’ Private and Public Interests, for citizens who wanted to understand how the state legislature works, and to help identify the private financial interests of lawmakers and their families.
The News Makers
Journalism created with care, integrity and transparency is a cornerstone of a healthy, vibrant democracy. When citizens understand how their news is produced and who is producing it, they’re more likely to trust what’s reported, make informed decisions and engage in a healthy dialogue on issues that matter. So, we examined Maine’s newspaper landscape.
Rx for Theft
Most of the people who fill prescriptions are honest and do their job well. But some of those people in white smocks are thieves, drug addicts or both, our investigation found. In thirteen cases over the last decade, the public’s health was jeopardized by people with a history of substance abuse and theft were allowed to hold a license to dispense drugs at pharmacies across the state.
Single Parents in Poverty
Nearly half of all births in Maine are to unmarried mothers. Is there a solution to the single-parent crisis? Not an easy one, say the experts and the people who try to help single mothers and their children, including teachers and school officials on the front lines of the crisis. Through our series, though, we show how they are trying.
Our investigation found scores of problems with how Maine treats its mentally ill residents. After 27 years, Maine still fails to comply with a court-ordered decree to improve treatment of the state’s mentally ill thanks to inadequate funding and potential conflicts of interest.
Unsafe Homes: Children in Peril
Two Maine babies and two toddlers died during May through August of 2021 due to suspected abuse by their parents. The four child homicides in three months set a state record. Barbara Walsh explores the recent homicides.