Guards won’t be justified in using deadly force against prisoners trying to escape the Maine Correctional Center in Windham under an amended bill approved Monday by the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
The original version of the bill included a provision to extend the right to use deadly force to officers and supervisors at the Windham facility – not just the Maine State Prison, where guards are already allowed to shoot at escaping prisoners.
The committee on Monday voted 11-1, with Rep. Ricky Long, R-Sherman, opposed, to remove the deadly force provision from the bill and move the amended version forward to the floor, said legislative analyst Curtis Bentley.
The rest of the bill included mostly housekeeping measures.
The Department of Corrections asked to extend the right to use deadly force to Maine Correctional Center guards, arguing thatinmates at the Windham facility have become increasingly dangerous, based on the crimes they have committed.
Gary LaPlante, the department’s director of security, said last month there were 28 prisoners serving time at the Maine Correctional Center for murder, attempted murder or conspiracy to commit murder; 25 for manslaughter; and 35 for arson. He said six prisoners were serving life sentences and 14 have release dates between 2032 and 2067.
Generally, prisoners serving sentences of more than five years go to the state prison, but can be transferred to the Maine Correctional Center for different reasons, including separation from another prisoner, he said.
LaPlante said there have been no prisoner escapes from the Maine Correctional Center or the Maine State Prison in at least 10 years.
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