DAMARISCOTTA — Maine State Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, a champion of criminal justice reform, was hospitalized for five days in an intensive care unit for COVID-19.

Evangelos was admitted Wednesday, Jan. 5 to the Miles campus of LincolnHealth in Damariscotta. He was released Sunday and is recuperating at home, but the legislator said Tuesday, Jan. 11 he expects it will be a long haul before he is fully recovered.

He said his immune system has been compromised from chemotherapy to treat the cancer he has been battling. The veteran legislator was vaccinated and received a booster shot.

“There’s a perfect storm going on in my body right now,” the Friendship independent said on Saturday.

He praised the care he is receiving, saying the work of the doctors and nurses has been wonderful.

“The care has been first class; I couldn’t ask for more,” he said.

Despite facing the health challenges, Evangelos continues to fight for the issues he has championed. A bill to create a study committee to return parole to Maine was held over from the last legislative session. He had to formally recall the proposed legislation this week to prevent it from being killed.

On Wednesday, Jan. 5, he planned to go to the State House to recall the bill, but became so ill he contacted his wife to have her take him to the hospital.

“I knew I couldn’t go to Augusta and possibly infect my colleagues,” he said.

Colleague Rep. Thom Harnett, D-Gardiner, helped Evangelos by getting the bill recalled so it can have an opportunity to get enacted later in the session.

Evangelos said he sneaked his computer into the hospital and participated in two Judiciary Committee hearings via Zoom Thursday. Jan. 6.

Evangelos was first elected to the Maine House in 2012 and re-elected in 2014, but did not seek re-election in 2016. He ran again in 2018 and was elected, and re-elected in 2020.

Evangelos announced in December 2021 he would not seek re-election. Instead, he will work as an activist for criminal justice reform.

“Most of the reform bills that I sponsored have passed the House and the Senate, only to face obstructions in the Appropriations Committee and Governor Janet Mills,” Evangelos said when he announced he would not seek re-election. “We fund the police, we fund the prosecutors, we fund the Courts and we fund the prisons without reservation. But, when it comes to funding an innocence plea or effective legal defense counsel for poor people, Maine’s running a rummage sale, outside the bounds of the due process requirements of the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution. I’ve had enough of it so I’m going to return to my activist roots of the 1960s for the next two years.”

“Maine’s record of innocence in serious felony post-conviction appeals, our record on unjustified police shootings, the absence of parole and our record on Executive Clemency all stand at zero. It’s not a functioning criminal justice system. The police, prosecutors, and the Attorney General’s Office are always right, the people are always wrong. It reminds me of George Orwell’s allegory, “Animal Farm”, where one set of people assume extra judicial and extra-constitutional authority to the detriment of the rest of us. (“Some animals are more equal than others.”) The system is irrevocably broken, with Judges who advanced their careers thru the ranks of the Attorney General’s Office and prosecutorial Districts, all the way up to our Superior Courts and the Maine Supreme Court. Seriously, what chance does an innocent person in prison have when their hearing is in front of the judge who worked in the system as an Assistant Attorney General, the system and people that put them in prison? Zero chance,” he said last month.

“The same goes for police shootings. The score stands at an abysmal 175-0, all justified, even when the victim is unarmed. You don’t get to 175-0 unless something is very, very disturbingly wrong. The entire criminal justice system in Maine suffers from inherent systemic bias, infected with ethical and moral corruption. Any prosecutor who would willfully keep an innocent person in a cage, blocking newly discovered evidence that would free the person, or anyone in the Attorney General’s office who would rule a police shooting justified when they know the evidence shows that it was a police murder, represents not only ethical and moral corruption, it represents a serious legal problem, including obstruction of justice, violations of constitutional guarantees of due process, the right to a fair trial or hearing, and a violation of civil rights,” Evangelos said.