AUGUSTA — Seven prisoners who lived at the Central Maine Pre-Release Center in Hallowell, which closed last Thursday, have been moved to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta.

The effort to keep those inmates with ties to the area in central Maine is designed to help with the transition back to the community, said Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty.

“I see this as a natural progression as they come back into the community,” Liberty said Wednesday.

A state worker assigned to monitor the inmates takes them to the construction site for the new hospital north of Augusta each day and brings them back to the jail at night, Liberty said. Inmates in the pre-release program are in the final months of incarceration, and they are required to perform community service work and often hold paying jobs.

The program first opened in Hallowell in 1979, according to the Department of Corrections.
State officials surprised Hallowell city leaders and community members earlier this year when they announced the closure of the facility at the former Stevens School complex on Winthrop Street. The pre-release center often provided inmates to help with painting projects at town buildings, heavy lifting needed for book sales, or help at the local homeless shelter.

Residents who spoke at a meeting in February at Hallowell City Hall said they depend on the free labor provided by the inmates.

Liberty said the county jail, which also provides inmates for community projects, will now coordinate local volunteer efforts.

In addition to the seven inmates who went to Augusta, 14 were transferred to the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren and seven went to the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, said Scott Fish, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.

Corrections officials said earlier this year that the move was necessary because the state is trying to sell the Stevens School property.

Employees at the facility have also been scattered to various sites, with five getting promotions or transfers within the system, 15 being reassigned in the system and one returning to a previous assignment, Fish said.

“Everything went smooth,” Fish said.

Susan Cover — 621-5643
[email protected]

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