AUGUSTA – A union lawyer said the governor’s effort to re-open the Downeast Correctional Facility is feeble.
Governor LePage however, said he’s complying with the court order.
Some legislators believe the governor’s plan to reopen the D.C.F. with minimal staffing and a minimum number of inmates violates a court order.
“It was pretty clear he was supposed to return everybody like it was on February 8th,” stated Senator Joyce Maker, R-Calais.
A union representative said they’ve been told that 12 inmates will be bused back to the Downeast Correctional Facility and five corrections officers will be called back to work.
Last week a Kennebec County judge said the governor lacked the authority to close the prison.
The governor interpreted the court order differently than Senator Maker. He said “The court order was very, very specific in saying that it has to be open. And they said, they would leave it up to the administration to decide. And we’re doing that.”
David Webbert, attorney for the unions representing the D.C.F. workers, said the governor’s response to the court order fails to comply with the court’s order to reopen the facility. He stated, “I just think this is unusual in Maine for the executive branch not to show respect to an order of the court.”
Tuesday morning, the Maine Senate voted 34 to zero to approve funding for the Machiasport facility through June 2019. That bill needs a favorable vote by two-thirds of the members of the House of Representative to be veto proof, as the governor vowed he would reject any such bill.
Governor LePage said “It is absolutely insane that we are having this discussion. And let’s help Mainers, instead of dealing with crybabies.”
Within an hour after the governor seemed to call supporters of the Downeast Correctional Facility crybabies, a spokesperson for his office clarified the governor’s comment. She said the governor meant no disrespect to the people of Washington County. However, she said, he was calling Representative Tuell and Senator Maker crybabies.