Within the past year, inmates have been transferred to other prisons across the state. Due to the uncertainty of what's going to happen to the DCF in Machiasport. As of now its set to close June 30th, unless a bill to extend funding for a year is passed.
"There's a crime problem in Washington County and in the state," said Rep. Will Tuell, (R) - East Machias. "I don't think people want to see inmates released or on the streets terrorizing the public."
This new bill will help lawmakers see how the facility impacts local economy.
"People may not think that it matters because it's in Washington County," said Sen. Joyce Maker, (R) - Calais. "Either they're going to have to release prisoners or add on to another facility, it's going to cost the people of Maine no matter what we do."
The DCF currently employs more than 50 people and houses over 70 inmates. Within the past few years, employees have received numerous reports of it closing and then told otherwise.
"We need to give them some assurances what's going to happen and why it's going to happen and do it for reason that's important for the state of Maine," said Maker.
The inmates are put to work around the county, whether it's fighting forest fires, seasonal work or even fixing up the correctional facility itself. Official stated, inmates are utilized across the region.
"They're all working hard without adding money to the state," said Maker.
According to officials, they've received close to 2,500 signatures in support of the bill.
"If we don't pass this bill, we also don't have plan in place for what to do next," said Tuell.
According to Washington County officials, passage of the bill will give them much needed time.
"We need to have a plan moving forward for this facility, so we're not doing this every single year. time and again," he said.