Judge Says Governor Can’t Close Prisons
A judge ruled this week that Governor Paul LePage does not have the authority to close a prison.
According to WABI-TV, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy granted a temporary injunction on Wednesday, stating that lawmakers are the only governing body with the authority to close a prison. The Department of Corrections and the Governor would need legislative approval to close a facility.
Maine's Attorney General, working with the Washington County Commission and union representatives, sought the injunction after the sudden closure of the Downeast Correctional Facility on February 9th. Despite the fact that the prison was funded for the summer by lawmakers, corrections officers and State Police entered the building before dawn and began moving prisoners to the facility in Charleston. Employees were given temporary lay-off orders and local businesses, who had work-release prisoners on their payroll, were left short-staffed with no prior notice.
The Governor has said that the prison is too costly and inefficient to keep running. WABI-TV reports it costs about $5 million a year to operate provides jobs, and contributes to the local economy.