AUBURN — Androscoggin County jail Administrator Capt. Jeffrey Chute is already looking ahead to his facility’s 2019 state inspection and exceeding his jail’s current high standards.

That’s a lofty goal.

The Androscoggin County jail’s latest grade? A perfect 100 percent.

A team of three inspectors from the Maine Department of Corrections spent a couple of days earlier this month performing an in-depth audit of the aging facility. The inspection reviewed 265 detention and correctional standards, including security, safety, training, staffing levels, cleanliness and staff, inmate and administrative relations.

“The Androscoggin County jail has certainly reached new heights under the current administration,” the three inspectors wrote in the report sent to Sheriff Eric Samson last week.

Chute was quick to share the accolades.


“It was an all-hands-on deal,” Chute said. “It wasn’t one or two people. This was all staff needing to chip in.”

“The pressure was on Jeff and staff to get it done and make sure we fell in line,” Samson added. “We are very pleased.”

Samson praised Chute, Assistant Jail Administrator Lt. Lane Feldman and compliance officer Sgt. Adam Campbell with overseeing the work required to meet the states’s standards.

Inspectors specifically praised the facility’s cleanliness and condition of the 19th-century building, telling the sheriff that it was in better shape than many of the state’s newer jails, Samson said.

“Not only do they look at your policies, practices and procedures, your instances that you had, whether medical or possible assaults or use-of-force issues, they interview inmates as part of the process,” Samson said. “They interview officers. We were asked questions prior to our inspection.”

Inspectors also lauded the jail for exceeding many standards and doing things other facilities are not doing. One example cited in the report was daily searches of the jail cells. The final report noted that unlike the Androscoggin jail, “most correctional facilities do not search all cells daily.”


State inspectors were also impressed with some of the programming, such as various alternative sentencing programs, such as painting, providing labor for nonprofits and working at the animal shelter and farm to keep inmates on a normal routine and keep them on track.

Staff development and their relationships with the administration also received praise.

“Those are important things that I look at,” Samson said. “That says a lot about your professionalism and the employees feeling supported by the organization, and the employees supporting the organization.”

Chute doesn’t plan to sit back and simply meet the same standards for county jails. He wants to meet even higher standards than are required. He is already looking at ways to do more, even though jail funding remains challenging.

One change recommended by the state was for the jail to hire its own maintenance staff instead of contracting out for the service, because of the age of the facility.

A low turnover in staff is another factor in the success of the jail’s operation, according to Samson and Chute.

“We have had zero complaints in the last year from inmates to the Department of Corrections,” Chute said. “That’s a great compliment to our staff.”

Androscoggin County Building in Auburn. 

Androscoggin County Building in Auburn. 

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