Officials propose defunding 48 positions in the Cumberland County Jail
CUMBERLAND, Maine (WMTW) - The Cumberland County sheriff and local officials want to defund 48 positions in their upcoming annual budget.
The proposal comes amid serious staffing shortages at the jail.
“If I turn out a budget for 425, when I know I only have 225 inmates, that’s, that’s not really a good stewardship of the taxpayer money,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce.
The current budget provides funding for 128 correction officers, but the jail has been operating with only 62. The proposed changes would still leave room for 24 additional guards and the cuts would save $2,354,455.
“So, the thought is, not doing away with the positions but fund what we think we could reasonably fill in a year and use some of that money as savings,” Joyce said.
If the jail has an opportunity to hire more than 24 applicants, Joyce said he would go to the county commissioners to request additional funding.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Joyce said. “I can’t tell you that this is a great idea. You know, we may have a mass arrest, and I’m scratching my head going, I never saw this coming. We just could be status quo.”
The jail had been capping new intakes because of the staffing shortages. Last week, they started accepting non-violent offenders for the first time since October 2021. The jail has yet to see an influx of inmates, but the union representing the prison workers has expressed concerns, saying that correction officers at the jail are already overworked.
“If it means, you know, working with the DA’s office to get people convicted or moved on, or released on bail and stuff like that, we’ll do that to try to keep that population consistent with our staffing,” Joyce said.
The county commissioners will vote on whether to accept the budget in mid-June and it would go into effect in July.
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