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Largest class of correctional officers graduate from Maine academy

The Maine Criminal Justice Academy graduated 67 corrections officers on Friday. It's the largest class in the academy's history and one of the most diverse. Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty said Maine, like the rest of the nation, has been struggling to fill vacant positions but he says recent recruitment efforts are starting to pay off.

"A lot of the counties and the state of Maine have enhanced pay. And benefits have been enhanced," Liberty said. "We've been working very diligently on wellness, trying to create an environment that's based on respect and dignity and it's a better work environment for all of the people in the facilities."

Several of the new officers will be going to work in the Maine State Prison where an investigation into hazing and harassment by several high-level staff is currently underway. Other graduates are being hired by county jails.

York County Sheriff William King says of the 14 recruits coming to work in his jail, five are new Mainers.

"Most of them are from Angola. English is their second language. They're stepping up. They're learning English. They're completing the academy," King said. "And we're trying to overcome those cultural differences that many people have."

King says it's always been a struggle to recruit corrections officers but he says recent advertising efforts and better pay and bonuses have contributed to the increase in numbers.