FARMINGTON — The Franklin County jail was relicensed six months ago to return to a fully operational jail, and it is now holding on average 30 to 32 prisoners each day, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said Friday.

It is licensed to hold 39 inmates.

“It is going great,” he said. “It is what we expected it to be.” 

The jail had been a 72-hour holding facility for nearly six years, after state consolidation of county jails.

Franklin County officials, residents and defense lawyers, among others, fought to get the state to return the jail to its former mission of holding county inmates longer. Though their efforts were initially rejected, the state gave Franklin County the green light in January to reopen the full-service jail in order to help with overcrowding at jails in the state.

After building renovations, hiring staff and procuring a license from the state, it reopened on April 13.

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The county received some additional money this year for programs and operations and will use it to hire an assistant administrator to help Jail Administrator Maj. Doug Blauvelt.

“We are helping out other counties,” but not as much as the county would like because of the classification of inmates and not always having an open bed in a particular classification, Nichols said.

The jail has also set up a videoconferencing system that allows inmates to stay at the jail and participate in a court appearance in whatever courtroom a judge is located.

That has slowed down transportation of inmates, and is great safetywise and eliminates risks, he said.

The county will also hold a five-week basic corrections class beginning Oct. 19 to get new corrections officers certified, which will help Franklin, Androscoggin and Oxford counties. Instruction will be held in the classroom of the county Regional Communications Center, next to the jail.

Defensive tactics will be taught in the sally port — a secure entryway — at the jail.

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A class that was scheduled for September was postponed by the state until January 2016.

“I decided to do it because we needed to do it,” Nichols said.

Reserve officer training no longer exists.

“Everybody has to be full-time certified,” he said. “It is all part of the collaboration between counties, too. We help each other out.”

The county has hired a lot of high-caliber, dedicated people who have come from other counties and all parts of the state to work at the jail, he said.

“That says a lot for our operation here,” Nichols said. “People come here to work.” 

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