FARMINGTON — The Board of Corrections will hold a second public hearing Tuesday on a request to change the Franklin County jail back to a full-service operation.

It was converted to a 72-hour holding facility on July 1, 2009, when the state consolidated county jails into one system.

The board will deliberate and make a decision after the hearing, Chairman Mark Westrum said last month.

The board opted to hold a second hearing on Franklin County commissioners’ request to change the jail’s mission in August under the advice of Assistant Attorney General Andrew Black.

The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. at the board’s Conference Room on the third floor of the Marquardt Building, 32 Blossom Lane, Augusta.

The purpose of the second hearing is for the board to receive further testimony pertaining to the request by Franklin County commissioners to change the mission of the Franklin County Detention Center to a full-service jail capable of holding detainees for longer than 72 hours.


The first public hearing on the proposal was held June 12 in Farmington. Members of the public packed the room at the University of Maine at Farmington to tell the board that they want the jail back.

The second hearing will allow the board to get input from a Corrections Working Group, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, and the Franklin County Detention Center. Representatives from the jail have been expressing their opinion on the need for the change for more than a year.

The board is expected to consider a number of criteria before making a decision,  including whether it would achieve cost efficiencies and future savings, meet the needs for bed space capacity at a regional level and accomplish the goals of a state law to better coordinate and reduce the cost of delivery of county correctional services.

A Corrections Working Group that reviewed the county’s proposal voted on April 18 to recommend to the Board of Corrections that the jail be reopened by this past July 1. The recommendation also gave the county the money that had been provided to Somerset County to house Franklin County inmates.

Somerset County stopped taking inmates from other counties in March when a dispute with the Board of Corrections occurred. Franklin County transport officers have been racking up the miles and overtime hours driving inmates around the state to jails that have open beds, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. told the board in August.

The jail would be able to hold 44 inmates if an indoor exercise room was converted. Without it, it could hold 31 inmates. There would be about 14 extra beds that could be used by other jails under the conversion, he said.


Franklin County taxpayers raise $1.6 million annually for the jail. It costs about $1 million to operate it and the remaining $600,000 or so is sent to the state to be used for other jails.

Westrum said last month that he needed to see how not having Franklin County’s $600,000 will affect the rest of the consolidated jail system before a decision is made. The board is struggling financially to fund jails and does not have enough money to pay the third and fourth quarters of 2013-14, he said.

The Board of Corrections voted in August to accept budgets that show the actual costs to run the jails. The board had instructed jails to submit flat funded budgets back in March for the biennium, but the counties did not follow the instructions including his own jail, Westrum said previously. Jail administrators and sheriffs cited safety among the reasons for not submitting flat-funded budgets.

“At this point, without a supplemental, we can’t even make it through third quarter and fourth quarter of fiscal year ’14 at flat funding so the financial issue has got to be dealt with by someone with more authority than the (state Board of Corrections),” Westrum previously said.

The state would need to come up with more money to run the jail system.

The Maine Sheriffs’ Association, Maine County Commissioners Association and the Lincoln/Sagadahoc Regional Jail Authority all took formal votes that instructed officials to submit actual cost budgets, he said.

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