Downeast Correctional Facility

Maine.gov

A Superior Court judge has declined to weigh in on how a Washington County prison should be operated, after Gov. Paul LePage emptied the facility in February. 

David Webbert, an Augusta attorney representing laid-off workers at the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport, filed the request for clarification with Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy.

Maine.gov

Time is running out for the Downeast Correctional Facility:  It will close for good June 30, unless lawmakers authorize additional funding for another year. 

Right now, lawmakers can't agree on whether a planned pre-release center should move forward in Washington County or whether the governor's decision to abruptly shut down DCF should be carefully reviewed. And with the legislative session nearing its end, hopes for either option are dimming.

Attorneys for unionized workers at the closed Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Machiasport are asking a judge to clarify her recent order requiring the LePage administration to keep the prison "operational" until the Legislature decides otherwise.

Attorney David Webbert says the administration disclosed Tuesday that it intends to recall five out of 55 workers who were laid off from DCF last month and return a "small population of inmates" who were abruptly transferred to other facilities in February.

Gov. Paul LePage says he’s “readjusting” operations at the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport now that a judge has ruled that his administration lacks the authority to unilaterally close the prison. But while the governor suggests he’ll return some inmates who were transferred and rehire staff who were let go, it’s not clear how many, and an attorney for the workers is concerned because the statement is so vague.

A lawyer for laid-off workers is demanding that Republican Gov. Paul LePage reopen the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport immediately, but no action is expected before the first part of next week. Justice Michaela Murphy ordered the facility be reopened Wednesday, but she left it up to the Department of Corrections to determine staffing and the number of inmates.

Maine.gov

Supporters of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport are wondering what happens next now that a superior court judge has issued a temporary injunction keeping the jail open until June. The judge sided with the Maine Attorney General, labor unions and the Washington County Commission, ruling that the LePage administration lacks the authority to unilaterally close the prison. 

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The LePage administration is endorsing legislation to build a new pre-release center in Washington County. However, lawmakers are concerned that the new center would do little to offset the impact of closing of the Downeast Correctional Facility.

Aaron Chadbourne, a senior policy advisor to Governor LePage, told members of the legislature’s criminal Justice committee that the new facility would house only 20 inmates while the recently-closed Downeast Correctional Facility held as many as 150.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The future of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport is now at the center of a political showdown at the State House.

The closure of the minimum security prison would mean more than the loss of state jobs Down East, it would also unravel a system that has supplied the region with labor from prison work release programs and from former inmates who decided to stay in Washington County to rebuild their lives.

Maine.gov

The State Senate, with a vote of 31 to 3, has signaled its desire to keep the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Washington County open for another year. But the margin of support in the House was less than what is needed to override an expected veto of the bill by Governor LePage, who abruptly closed the facility last week.

Maine.gov

The State Senate, with a vote of 31 to 3, has signaled its desire to keep the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Washington County open for another year. But the margin of support in the House was less than what is needed to override an expected veto of the bill by Governor LePage, who abruptly closed the facility last week.

House GOP Stands With LePage To Thwart Bid To Reopen Down East Prison

Feb 15, 2018
Bill Trotter / Bangor Daily News

A largely united House Republican caucus Thursday stymied a legislative effort to reopen the Downeast Correctional Facility, which Gov. Paul LePage abruptly closed last week.

The entire Democratic caucus supported the emergency bill, but all but seven Republicans voted no, dooming its chances of garnering the two-thirds support it needs to take effect immediately or survive a likely LePage veto.

Maine Public

The LePage administration has agreed – for now – to stop removing equipment from the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Washington County official says he filed an injunction to prevent Republican Gov. Paul LePage from taking further steps to shutter a minimum-security state prison.

Washington County Commission Chairman Chris Gardner says he filed the injunction Tuesday against the Department of Corrections in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Gardner says a hearing will be held Wednesday afternoon.

The governor’s administration on Friday removed inmates from Downeast Correctional Facility even though the prison is funded by lawmakers through the summer.

Maine.gov


Washington County residents and former employees at the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Machiasport say the early morning closure of the minimum-security prison is a betrayal by the governor that they can't accept.

Maine.gov

A union official says teams from the Maine Department of Corrections moved inmates from the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport to another prison early Friday morning.

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