Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

Glimpses From Prison

From Human Sacrifice: “Brannon [a former Corrections Guard at Maine State Prison] said, ‘Dechaine gets more room and leeway than anybody I’ve ever seen in prison. He’s the only inmate I ever witnessed come and get keys. They don’t allow anybody to even view keys, much less touch them. Except for Dechaine.”

“Top guards had a list, Brannon told me – prisoners they’d release if the power was theirs. ‘There were three inmates on that list. One of them was Dennis Dechaine.’” (Human Sacrifice, p. 322)

Letter from Jeffrey D. Merrill, Warden of Maine State Prison, sent to Dennis 8/27/97:
“Dear Mr. Dechaine: Captain Groton had told me about the extent of the work and sacrifice of free time that you men have put into the garden project this year. The results are truly amazing. I am sure that everyone, staff and inmates alike, appreciates the beauty of the flowers and this expression of thoughtfulness, things that are sorely needed in this environment.

“We all know that the Maine State Prison is a unique place in many ways. Hopefully, each of us contributes to this community in a positive way. The garden project is certainly a major contribution and I want to thank you for it.
Sincerely Jeffrey D. Merrill, Warden.” 

From Carol Waltman: “The newsletter [Article from Maine State Prison Quarterly, July 1997, titled “MSP’s FLOWER SHOW SPECTACULAR”] was even printed in color to show some of the flower beds around the prison. If I recall, way back then, Dennis had begged for years to let him grow flowers. They never wanted to contribute to the project.” [The article states: “Have you ever seen anything like this? Everybody at MSP says ‘thank you’ to Dennis Dechaine, Dennis Nile, and all the others who volunteered their time and helped make this extravaganza possible. Thoughtful planning and planting will supply vivid color from now until frost. The variety rivals floral landscaping of any place in the area.”]

“So Dennis started to order flowers through me and I would have them sent to the prison. That was too costly. Finally, Dennis and I started to solicit flower companies from all over the world. Never thought to hear from them, but we were persistent and finally all these boxes of bulbs, shrubs, etc. were being delivered to the prison. There was nothing more but to let Dennis plant what was coming in. Some companies were sending boxes of stuff. Dennis was in heaven. The yards grew to be so beautiful. One of the captains even went out of his way to take pictures to give to Dennis so he could show me what he had accomplished. Before you knew it, they let him build a little garden shack and he had 10,000 seedlings in this 10′x66′ space. Dennis would really get excited about the rose bushes. I remember one company had sent him over 50 in one shot. The gardens grew from there.” 

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