The Aroostook County Jail is overcrowded and underfunded. This was the message that Chief Deputy Sheriff Darrell Crandall and County Administrator Doug Beaulieu had for members of the Aroostook legislative delegation – who came to the facility on Friday.
“The simple fact of the matter is we can’t just close the doors,” said Crandall.
Fridays meeting and jail tour was a way to make legislators aware of the issues. The jail’s capacity is 86 inmates, but they have more than 100 – which means they’ve had to send some inmates to jails downstate, which in turn means major transportation costs.
Crandall says, “in the last year we transported 3,106 inmates almost 150 thousand miles.”
The majority of the jail’s inmates are waiting for their trial. Crandall says the jail used to house only 72 inmates – they recently added more bunks and are working to expand all the time. The other issue is the money. For the last five years, the facility has been underfunded according to Bealieu.
Bealieu said, “in the current year that we’re in, we’re under funded by about half a million dollars.”
Crandall said, “there’s no fat on this jail budget left. There hasn’t been for years, so we’re faced with, all we can do is run the jail on the way we’re doing it now until we run out of money sometime in March or April and then we’re going to have to close the doors and send all of our prisoners somewhere else and that’s not realistic.”
Crandall says it’s up to the state to come up with more money – the county’s portion of the budget was capped in 2008, and what the state is giving them in addition to that is just not enough. That’s why they’re hoping their representatives can take action in Augusta. State Representative Ken Theriault said it was well presented and he plans to speak with the Appropriations Committee.
Theriault says, “we definitely have to do something if at all possible or else I don’t know what the end result will be.”
Crandall says they can’t run the facility any cheaper than they are right now. Ultimately, Beaulieu says they want the jail to be self sufficient and get their fair share.