- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A minimum-security prison that Gov. Paul LePage shuttered without legislative approval could receive another year of funding under a bill considered by the Maine Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate approved a bill Tuesday to provide $5.5 million in funding to Downeast Correctional Facility starting in June, however, a similar House bill lacked sufficient support last week. Both chambers must pass the legislation before it can be sent to the governor to sign into law.

The minimum-security prison has long been on the state’s chopping block as supporters argue the facility provides jobs and free prison labor to the surrounding rural community. The prison, with a capacity of about 150 beds, has an annual state budget of about $5 million.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy ruled last week that LePage lacked authority to close the prison in February, but she stopped short of ordering all of the inmates to be returned. The judge left it up to the Department of Corrections to determine staffing and the number of inmates.

The Republican governor said Monday he’ll comply with the court order by adding a “minimal” number of staffers and inmates to the facility through June when current funding runs out.



David Webbert, a lawyer for laid-off prison workers, said the governor’s plan is too limited.

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