WARREN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Warden of the Maine State Prison says the death of an inmate there has upset both staff and other inmates, but also says the prison is safer than it was a year ago.
Maine State Police say Micah Boland was stabbed to death inside the prison last Friday. They say Boland had been serving a 22-year sentence for sexually assaulting a 4-year old girl. Investigators believe Richard Stahursky is the one who killed him, though they have not provided any further details of the crime or the possible reason for the attack. However, they sat Stahursy has a record of violence in the prison, including assaulting a guard and stabbing two other inmates.
Prison warden Rodney Bouffard wouldn't talk about any of the details of the case on Monday. It's the fourth time in the last five years an inmate has been killed at the state prison. But despite that history, Bouffard says the prison is getting safer. He took over as acting warden in January of 2013, then was named warden last summer. Prior to coming to the State Prison, Bouffard had been director of the state's Long Creek juvenile correctional facility, and also had experience working in Maine's mental health system.
Bouffard says they have made a lot of changes to staffing and policies at the prison over the past six months. He says the number of attacks and fights has been reduced, and that there are fewer weapons and fewer drugs getting into the prison. But he also says they have 880 inmates, many with violent histories, and cannot guarantee future attacks won't happen. "I'd love to be able to sit here and say to you this will never happen again," says Bouffard from a t5able filled with statistics on prisoner activity. "I'd love to be able to say that. The reality is you look at the inmates we're housing, our job is to do the best we can to prevent these things from happening.
Among other changes, the warden says he tries to be inside the prison with guards and inmates at least once each day. He says the prison formed a special security team that patrols the facility, and gathers information from inmates to help control problems. Bouffard also says there has been a lot of staff turnover in the past year. He says there are about 100 new guards, or security officers, during that time. Two other members of the prison management team told NEWS CENTER morale among the staff seems to be far better, and that staff members are eager to become involved with new programs.
But Bouffard also says violence, weapons and drugs are still very real issues inside the prison. He says they are making progress controlling all of those problems, but cannot eradicate them completely. And he says even though all the statistics on inmate problems are "trending downward", meaning going in the right direction, the warden says violent attacks, such as the one on Friday, can always happen.