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Nearly all of Maine's county jails say they're understaffed

Troy R. Bennett
Bangor Daily News

Almost all of Maine's 15 county jails say they're understaffed, and some are missing more than half of the employees they say they need to fully operate.

The problems are especially dire at the York County Jail, which is understaffed by 65%. Knox County reports that staffing is down 60%, and Cumberland County down 47%.

The Penobscot County Jail is missing nearly one-third of the workers it needs to operate, according to the data that the Maine Sheriffs Association provided to a special committee, which is studying whether residents in state prisons, county jails and other correctional facilities in Maine can confidentially communicate with their attorneys as the constitution requires.

Sheriffs Association President Dale Lancaster said county jails are stretched to their limits. The Somerset County Jail that he oversees just lost two staff members earlier this week.

"At the time of this reporting, I was unfilled at 44%," he told the Commission to Ensure Constitutionally Adequate Contact with Counsel, which met again Wednesday. "And I had two walk off last night, so that just increases that number."

Only one jail in Maine, the Waldo County Correctional Facility, reported that it was fully staffed.