FARMINGTON — Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. told more than 100 people gathered for a demonstration Wednesday that he plans to reinstate the Franklin County jail to full-service status and take it back from the state.

The state Board of Corrections has not approved the county’s request for the reclassification from a 72-hour holding facility.

Nichols said he would start hiring corrections officers and asking those who lost their jobs if they wanted to come back. Ten people lost their jobs in July 2009 when the state changed the jail’s mission.

Nichols asked if anyone knew a food vendor that might want to serve the jail, and if so, to send them his way.

People from around the county stood in front of the Franklin County Courthouse on Main Street, many carrying homemade signs with messages to the state Board of Corrections that they wanted their jail back and they wanted local control.

The board was the subject of several signs, including one that read, “BOC can you hear us now?”


Danny Elder of Chesterville held a sign that read, “Local control. Give us back our jail.”

The system developed under former Gov. John Baldacci’s administration is not right and takes jobs from this county, Elder said.

“It’s time for it to end,” he said.

Evangeline Tartt of Farmington said she didn’t like it when the state took over the jail in 2009 and she hadn’t changed her mind. It is an inefficient system, she said.

Her sister, Sandra Webber, also of Farmington, agreed.

“A lot of poor people go to jail, and their loved ones cannot afford to visit them,” Webber said. Inmates, after 72 hours, are moved to full-service jails in Somerset County or other parts of the state.


But for the second time in a year, Somerset County stopped taking new inmates from Franklin County and other counties on March 26 because the state owes money for boarding those inmates. That means Franklin County has to call around to find beds and transport the inmates around the state.

Scott Nichols Jr. of New Sharon, the sheriff’s son, said he supported his father and the idea of having local control of “our jail.” In today’s economy, costs add up quickly — not just for the Sheriff’s Department and the jail, but for police departments that have to send officers to jails outside the county to interview inmates during investigations, he said.

Sheriff Nichols thanked the crowd for showing up and for putting the pressure on Augusta. He gave a rundown of how the county jail system ended up the way it is, beginning in 2008, when the Baldacci administration created a unified jail system and turned three county jails into 72-hour holding facilities on July 1, 2009.

County taxpayers raise $1.6 million a year to operate the jail. This year, $630,576 of it is scheduled to be sent to the Board of Corrections to support other jails. The most it has cost the county to run the facility since the mission change was about $1.1 million.

Several of the demonstrators said they don’t like sending money to the state.

County commissioners and Nichols made a decision last week to hold the final payment of the year, $315,288, due to the current situation.

“It’s time we get our jail back,” Andy Phillips of Phillips said.

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