Department of Corrections Plans to Save Money by Closing Five County Jails

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Maine's Department of Corrections has proposed a plan to restructure county jails and create a new oversight commission to manage them.

It would close jails in Androscoggin, Oxford, Washington, Franklin and Piscataquis counties.

The DOC says closing those five county jails will save millions.

But Kevin Joyce, President of the Maine Sheriff's Association, says the proposal would shift costs to municipalities, especially in rural communities.

Corrections' Commissioner was expected to be at Tuesday's legislative briefing, but sheriffs and deputies in attendance were told he wouldn't be coming just as the meeting began.

"The governor had been informed that this particular piece of legislation was not received in a particular way that led him to believe that it had much chance of success. And so consequently, he believed that it was not a good use of time for Commissioner Fitzpatrick to attend," said Holly Lusk, LePage's Chief of Staff.

"Under this proposal I would take on 160 additional inmates. Well first of all, I can't fill the positions I have now for the 400 I'm holding today and I would have to hire people. So where am I going to hire these folks? Then I would have to increase my medical contract, and right out of the gate that's $317,000 at least," said Cumberland County Sheriff Joyce.

While the plan has been presented to legislative committees, an official bill is yet to be submitted.