As a county commissioner of Franklin County for nearly 20 years I beg to differ with some of the statements in the Opinion column of July 29, regarding the state jail system.

For instance, I question the statement “avoided $16.5 million in property tax increases.”

The property taxpayers of Franklin County paid to the Bureau of Corrections more than $600,000 last year alone. Since Somerset refused to take prisoners from other counties, because of lack of payments due by the state of Maine, it has been a nightmare here in Franklin County.

According to the “one Maine one system,” we are not allowed to keep prisoners at the Franklin jail longer than 72 hours. Finding jail space elsewhere, as well as transporting prisoners as far away as Windham, has been a big part of our problem.

We hear the cry for more bed space; we have more than 20 beds at the Franklin jail that are not being used on a daily basis.

Counties ran the jails in this state for some 150 years. Anyone who thinks the state of Maine could do a better job, cost-wise, is dreaming. The Department of Health and Human Services is a prime example.

This jail idea was bad from the start, and it has gotten worse. Transporting pre-trial prisoners to Somerset made no sense. Our jail is four miles from the court house. Windham is about 80 miles away.

This is a state problem. It’s time to put the genie back in the bottle, before it’s too late.

Fred W. Hardy, commissioner

Franklin County

New Sharon

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