Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Students of USM, Matthew Raymond

Posted on February 01, 2016 in Sports
By USM Free Press

Meaghan Gonsior

By Meaghan Gonsior

Matthew Raymond is driven by a passion for prison reform and for him, it’s personal. During a class taught by USM Professor Leroy Rowe, Raymond, a third year history major and political science minor, came to a pivotal cross-roads.

“A course on mass incarceration has opened doors within my heart that I thought would remain locked forever,” said Raymond. “My new found ability to empathize with inmates of Maine has even extended to my own father, whom I’ve been estranged from for ten years.”

Professor Rowe encouraged Raymond to reach out to his father who is currently incarcerated at the Bolduc Correctional Facility where he earns 40 to 60 cents per hour doing manual labor like digging potatoes.

Raymond says initiating communication with his father has been “an emotional rollercoaster,” but he’s gained a better understanding of the man. Raymond plans to complete a law degree and go on to become a Criminal Defense Attorney. His goals include working with impoverished individuals as a court-appointed defense, abolishing the use of solitary confinement as punishment, and raising the prisoners’ minimum wage to one dollar per hour. 

“Students at USM are often not as confident about their abilities, but with a little perseverance, we can change the way society works,” said Raymond.

Solitary confinement punishment stands out as a critical issue for Raymond. Prisoners may be sentenced to months or years in solitary, sometimes even without a clear reason. “The Frontline documentary “Solitary Nation,” chose the Maine State Prison as their example of America’s widespread abuse of solitary confinement.

Even the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture condemned solitary confinement as cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. The American Psychological Association has also found that solitary confinement exacerbates mental illness, which leads to an increase in violent behavior and self harm. These are just some of the many reasons why Mainers must call for the complete abolition of solitary confinement.

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