Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Considers Republican Amendment to Jail Consolidation Reversal Legislation

Rep. Ricky Long’s Amendment Creates Transitional Period For Return of Jails to Counties

Augusta – The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee this afternoon held a work session on LD 186, “An Act to Reverse Jail Consolidation,” sponsored by Senator Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis). At the work session, the committee deliberated an amendment proposed by Representative Ricky Long (R-Aroostook) which would effectively create a transitional period to ease the financial burden a consolidation reversal could place on counties.

Rep. Long’s amendment would repeal the Board of Corrections and gradually draws down state funding providing a “soft landing” during this transition.

“It is obvious that our current system is ineffective and dysfunctional,” said Senator Davis. “Returning the jails to the counties is the right solution, and I am pleased that Rep. Long has submitted such a commonsense amendment that will help Maine’s counties to deal with taking back control of the jails.”

“This is a critically important issue that needs to be addressed before June 30. This plan to restore control of the jails to the counties has been endorsed by the majority of sheriffs in Maine. If those who seem to be opposed to this plan have another realistic plan to solve this problem I’m all ears. But we don’t have time for political gamesmanship.”

The proposal would also require the Maine Sheriffs Association to report back to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee by January 15 of each year on the operation and funding of the county jails and the regional jail as well as the progress the sheriffs are making to improve the operation and functioning of the jails. It would also authorize the committee to submit any legislation related to the improvement, operation and funding for the county jails and the regional jail.

A majority of Maine Sheriffs have voiced support for the plan. A vote will likely happen in the coming weeks.

(Rep. Long’s amendment which outlines the funding for the jails is attached)

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