As a parent of a person incarcerated at the Maine State Prison, it was disheartening for me to read the reactions of the Office of the State Attorney General and the chairman of the legislative Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety to the homicide that occurred recently at the Maine State Prison.

The state’s chief prosecutor shrugged it off dismissively, saying: “It does happen.”

There was little concern from the Legislature as the Criminal Justice chairman deferred to an “internal investigation” by the State Department of Corrections, while declaring that it was “too early” to say that the spike in inmate murders is “disturbing.”

There were no homicides from 1991-2009. There have been four in the past four years.

That is disturbing.

The facts in the recent murder are ugly and even more disturbing.

According to the State Police, Micah Boland was assaulted in his cell in the middle of the afternoon.

He was beaten so badly that he was unconscious. He was tied up. He was stabbed several times. The alleged murderer has a record of violence within the prison and had eight years added to his sentence for an assault on a corrections officer in 2012.

“It does happen” seems grossly inadequate to describe that tragedy.

It is time to do much more than wonder, as Rep. Mark Dion does, whether there were “gaps in security coverage,” whether “steps could have been taken to prevent the slaying,” and how the alleged murderer could have “ procured the weapons.”

A more reassuring response would have been an admission by both Deputy Attorney General William Stokes and Rep. Dion that there are obvious gaping holes in security, and that numerous steps could and should have been taken to prevent this murder.

Identification of those deficiencies in standards of practice is not a job for the Department of Corrections, who would be simply investigating itself. It is a job for the people of Maine and for the people we elect and appoint to represent us.

For example, we didn’t ask the Maine Turnpike Authority to investigate itself about embezzlement by its executive director. Nor should we ask the DOC to investigate its own policies and procedures that may have abetted the commission of this horrible crime.

I call on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, along with the Committee on Governmental Oversight, to launch an independent investigation.

Violence does happen, but it has to stop.

Irving Faunce is a resident of Wilton.

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