LePage makes new push to pull control of jails from counties
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has rolled out a proposal to hand oversight of Maine’s 15 county jails to a new state commission and potentially close five of them while regionalizing the system.
One sheriff said he was “shocked” by the January proposal from the Maine Department of Corrections, which is the Republican governor’s latest step toward overhauling a county jail system that has struggled with shortfalls for years under a county and state governing structure.
Now, Maine has 14 county jails and another regional jail serving Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties. They’re controlled by counties, which pay $62 million of the total cost of $80 million. The state pays the rest, but that structure has been a problem.
The Maine Board of Corrections, set up to oversee that system, stalled in 2015 because LePage didn’t fill vacancies. He has hammered the arrangement, saying it gives counties no incentive to rein in spending and that either the state or counties should fully fund and manage jails.