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LePage Issues Conditional Commutations for 17 Prisoners

Gov. Paul LePage has allowed the early release of 17 prisoners through conditional commutation orders, according to his office.

The governor’s action follows the recent announcement that he has been reviewing the release of an unknown number of prisoners deemed to be lower-risk offenders.

According to the administration, the commutation orders are based on recommendations by the Department of Corrections. The LePage administration billed the orders as an effort to modernize the prison system and bolster the workforce.

The commutations were also viewed as part of the governor’s plan to shut down the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport. But it appears that the administration is backing off that effort.

The orders — LePage’s first since taking office over six years ago — have been applauded by the ACLU of Maine and criticized by others protesting his bid to shutdown the Downeast Correctional Facility.

The commutations are conditional, which means the released prisoners must adhere to strict guidelines or risk returning to prison.