LePage closed a Washington County prison by surprise this morning

February 11th, 2018 by admin Leave a reply »

Good morning from Augusta. Gov. Paul LePage did something he has long wanted to do by surprise on Friday morning, when he closed the Downeast Correctional Facility by sending buses to move inmates out and handing layoff notices to prison staff.

The Republican governor floated a similar plan for the Machiasport prison’s closure in 2017, but he pulled back after Washington County’s legislative delegation made moves to temporarily fund the facility. The two-year budget passed last year funded it through June.

It’s looking like one of the signature power grabs of LePage’s administration. Last year, an assistant attorney general cast doubt on whether LePage can close the prison while it’s being funded by the Legislature. The union representing prison workers said it’s exploring whether or not the administration followed contract rules around layoffs.

Even if he can do it and even for a governor who has often stretched the bounds of executive authority during his tenure, this is an abrupt move: Buses reportedly arrived without warning in Machiasport at 4:30 a.m. today to move about 100 inmates to a state facility in Charleston.

It also comes during another legislative fight to keep the prison open. Earlier this month, a legislative committee endorsed a bill from Rep. William Tuell, R-East Machias, that would keep the prison open past June and would allow the state to close it only with legislative approval.

That bill hasn’t yet gone to the floor in either chamber, but the Washington County delegation has Article source: http://bangordailynews.com/link/lepage-closed-a-washington-county-prison-by-surprise-this-morning/