The Franklin County Detention Center is hiring more staff, finalizing contracts and preparing to open in April as a fully operational jail after the state dropped restrictions that reduced the jail to 72-hour holding center.

The jail is expected to be inspected by Department of Corrections officials during the first week of April, and if all goes well, it will be granted a license from the state to restart all of its operations and receive county prisoners who have been placed at Somerset County and other jails around the state, Sheriff Scott Nichols said in a meeting earlier this week with the Franklin County commissioners.

Currently, inmates stay at the Franklin County jail for no more than 72 hours, after which they are sent to other jails or prison. Nichols said the department plans to not only take its own prisoners back, but will begin to also house inmates from other counties when there is bed space available, to take pressure of other crowded jails in the system like Kennebec County.

“They’re relying on us to take some of that pressure off,” said Nichols.

The vote in January by the Maine Board of Corrections to allow Franklin County to reopen reversed an order under a 2008 law that overhauled the state’s jails and reduced the Franklin County jail to a three-day holding center, resulting in Franklin County inmates held longer than 72 hours being transferred to the Somerset County Jail in East Madison and other jails at an annual county cost of about $600,000.

Franklin County officials had been critical of the jail’s reduced status, which means the jail staff members had to shuttle inmates between other jails and Franklin County jail for court appearances in Farmington, which they said wasted time and money.

Nichols said in January that the goal was to reopen in March, but Jail Administrator Doug Blauvelt Friday said the opening was being delayed because of the licensing process.

Blauvelt said the jail staff members are setting up programs such as adult education classes to help the inmates transition out of jail and into productive lives.

Blauvelt said they have contracts re-established for medical and mental health services, through Med Pro and Evergreen Behavioral Health.

The jail had to let go staff and downsize when it was a holding facility, but Blauvelt said the jail re-hired for the positions of full-time cook, part-time cook, food service manager and four corrections officers now that they are returning to full operations.

On Tuesday, Blauvelt promoted corrections officers Jason Hamlin and Jane Proctor, who will be sergeants with the expanded staff.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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