AUGUSTA — The union representing Maine’s prison guards has asked legislators to support the purchase of “stab vests” for its members after a fatal inmate stabbing at the Warren prison.

James Mackie, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, on Wednesday presented a letter to the chairmen of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee asking them to support legislation providing vests to 600 guards with direct contact with inmates.

The Portland Press Herald ( ) reports that the $240 vests are designed to protect the wearer from stab wounds to the chest, back and sides. The total would be about $150,000.

Democratic State Rep. Mark Dion of Portland says officer safety is an important topic that should be discussed, but it’s too early to commit to the proposal.

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