New Machias Jail? 

As prison crowding remains a problem in

Maine, there’s more discussion about a possible state-county

partnership to run a prison in the eastern part of the state.

In Machias, members of an exploratory committee met

for the first time to talk about building a jail that could house

both county inmates and state prisoners.

Nothing was decided, but Washington County and state officials

agreed to explore the matter further. Another meeting’s scheduled

for August 23rd in Machias.

Ralph Nichols of the state Corrections Department says he’s like

to see a plan prepared by the end of October to present to the

Legislature in January. That plan would include a location, size

and cost of a new facility.

The state already operates the Downeast Correctional Facility at

a former Air Force station in Bucks Harbor. Officials say that

prison, which is more than 20 years old, needs upgrading.

In May, the idea building a new prison in eastern Maine was

presented to Governor Baldacci, who expressed interest but wanted

more details.

One idea that’s been floated is to have the Washington County

Development Authority issue bonds to build a prison and then lease

it to the state.