Washington County Legislators to Present Bill to Extend Funding for Downeast Correctional Facility

Contact:
Krysta West
Communications Director
Senate Republican Office
(207) 287-1505
krysta.west@legislature.maine.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUSTA – Senator Joyce Maker (R-Washington) and Representative William Tuell (R-East Machias) will present LD 1704, “An Act To Fund the Downeast Correctional Facility,” to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee at a public hearing scheduled for Monday, January 29.

Sponsored by Rep. Tuell, this bill, which has broad bipartisan support, would extend funding for Downeast Correctional Facility for an additional year, allowing lawmakers adequate time to plan for the next steps. As it stands right now, the facility is slated for closure on June 30.

“The way I see it, this isn’t just a Washington County bill,” said Sen. Maker. “Closing this facility before even beginning construction to expand the Windham facility would be irresponsible, as it will put the safety of our prison workers and prisoners at risk due to the chronic bed shortage that would surely result.

“As legislators, it’s our job to look at the bigger picture here. The Downeast Correctional Facility needs to be preserved, at least until additional beds are brought online elsewhere and the previously agreed upon pre-release center to be built in Washington County comes to fruition.”

“If we fail to pass LD 1704, the Downeast Correctional Facility will close on June 30,” said Rep. Tuell. “Prisoners will either be let loose early or we will be putting prisoners on top of each other. The 50 or so men and women who are employed at the facility will be out of work or forced to move away, and we will be wiping out 150 beds that we’ll never get back.

“We will also be abandoning the prison property and walking away without a legislatively approved plan for dealing with all parts of the closure. My bill also says that DCF can’t close without the Legislature’s say so, so it’s critical that we pass it.”

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