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Prison, American-style

Click still to watch each clip in Apple's Quicktime format

watch clip #1   watch clip #2   watch clip #3


The extremely explicit and graphic scenes on this tape are real. They are not for the faint of heart. They include nudity and violence. Anyone who views them should be prepared to be disturbed and outraged. We have blurred the faces of the inmate and the guards in order to protect their privacy.

The three video clips represent one minute and thirty seconds of a more-than hourlong video that chronicled the 2000 "extraction" of a prisoner from his cell inside Maineís Supermax and his placement in the prisonís restraint chair. As Lance Tapley explains in the story (part one, part two), the "prison tapes each extraction in order to prove, some people would say ironically, that the prisoner is not being mistreated."

The full video starts with the guards receiving instructions from a superior on the inmateís situation, his extraction from his cell, and his march toward the hallway outside the restraint room, where he is forced to the ground and sprayed in the face with what looks like pepper spray. The prisonerís clothes are then cut off until he is nude. He is picked up off the floor and thrown into a chair, where a guard again sprays him repeatedly while three other guards strap him in. The bulk of the video shows the naked prisoner in the chair, trying to get free, and yelling to the guards: "I am sitting in piss." Through the reflection of the window-enclosed room, guards can be seen periodically looking in on the suspect.

It is important to bear in mind that the actions captured in these clips are not outlawed. They are sanctioned by the state, and the guards are shown are working within a well-established legal framework. By showing these tapes we aim to bring to public attention to the internal workings of Maine Supermax and similar correctional facilities across the nation.

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