Franklin County commissioners meet with representatives of state board

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FARMINGTON — Ryan Thornell, executive director of the state Board of Corrections, told Franklin County commissioners Tuesday that the majority of the board’s time is focusing on building a state supplemental budget and creating rules for a newly passed law related to corrections.

The board oversees the consolidated county jail system that went into effect five years ago.

Initially, it was thought the Board of Corrections was going to need a $2 million supplemental budget to get through 2014-15, he said.

Because federal boarding funds are $500,000 less than anticipated, he said, the supplemental budget request will be about $2.5 million to make it through the year.

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Representatives of the board are visiting county commissioners around the state.

The board also plans to do a five-year annual review of the jails as required by law and is starting with the three jails that had mission changes. Besides Franklin County, which was reduced from full-service to a 72-hour holding facility, Oxford and Waldo counties also had their missions changed.

Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay asked what role the county would play with the Board of Corrections.

Thornell said the role of the county comes back to what the county wants the role to be. It could include helping shape the Board of Corrections. The earlier the board receives input from the counties, the better, he said.

The meetings are open to the public.

Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said there have been a lot of rumors about closing the Franklin County jail. He asked Thornell and Board of Corrections Chairman Joel Merry, sheriff of Sagadahoc, if there was any intention to shut down the jail.

The county is playing ball as best as it can and closing the jail would be catastrophic to the residents and the county, he said.

Merry said an ad hoc committee is being formed to review the three jails that had mission changes in 2009. Whatever comes out of that would have to be brought back to the working group and the board, he said.

There has been no discussion on anything to do with the Franklin County jail, according to representatives of the board.

The ad hoc committee members are being chosen by the co-chairmen of the corrections working group, Thornell said.

State Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, suggested that there be representation on the committee from the jails that had a mission change.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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