Sunday’s newspaper (Sept. 27) described the continuing saga of the state’s county jail system (article, “Inmate crunch spurs makeshift plan for jail“). Depending where we look, some facilities are overflowing with inmates (Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot counties) while others are awash with empty beds (Somerset county and Two Bridges). What are we to do?

It would appear the system is out of balance and better utilization of resources is the answer. Simply put, the no-brainer solution is to send inmates from the overcrowded facilities to those with available space. It seems this was the way things functioned, and not that long ago.

To implement the obvious solution, county corrections officials have to overcome “a conundrum,” as described by Joel Merry, Sagadahoc County sheriff. Places with space are reluctant to board prisoners from other counties because they can’t charge for housing. The ability to charge (or not) seems to be governed by some arcane legislation which is still in effect, even though the State Board of Corrections isn’t functioning to make the system work.

If the emphasis is to enforce laws, round up desperadoes and lock them up, the least that can happen is to allow the system to function properly. There’s work to do teasing out the dysfunctional parts of statutes and setting things right. Let’s get to work!

F. Gerard Nault


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