AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills, along with representatives from Washington County, announced on Friday an agreement to build a new pre-release center on the grounds of the former Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport.
According to the Governor’s Office, the facility would house 50 minimum-security prisoners and employ 15 staff and cost between $6.5 million and $8 million. Funding would come from a bond approved in 2016. It will retain the name of Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF).
“As someone who fought to keep DCF open, I understand how important it is to the people of Washington County and I shared in their frustration when it was closed,” the Governor said in a statement. “I thank the Washington County delegation for working with me and Commissioner [Randall] Liberty to rectify this situation as best we could and ensure that DCF continues on in this new facility.”
Former Governor Paul LePage moved to close the facility in February 2018, although a court order kept forced him to temporarily keep it in operation through last June.
Washington County representatives had introduced legislation to reopen to facility, although the potential costs of rehabilitation the facility had caused the state to explore leasing existing properties in the area.
“We are very happy the administration is keeping DCF where it is and keeping a promise to the people of Washington County,” said Rep. Will Tuell (R-East Machias). “Our delegation was committed to the current DCF location, and we are very pleased with the outcome.”