AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage is looking into commuting the sentences of female inmates as part of an effort to alleviate a shortage of workers as Maine’s tourism season starts.

On a radio call-in show Tuesday, LePage said he is also asking the federal government for help securing foreign workers to fill jobs in hotels and restaurants in the state. The tourism industry is having a hard time finding workers at a time of record low unemployment in the state.

The call follows a move by his administration to release 17 male prisoners Friday. He said the action would allow inmates to get jobs and wouldn’t threaten public safety. He also said it wasn’t related to his proposal to close the Downeast Correctional Facility and transfer or release 100 inmates.

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