The detention center is an especially important responsibility overseen by the Sheriff. Many folks who come to the jail are likely experiencing a time in their life which they may often regret and circumstances that no one wishes to experience.
As Sheriff, I would like to ensure inmates coming into the jail continue to receive social support and the medical care they need. I have seen people successfully rehabilitated so when released with proper support in place, they never have to return.
I would like to ensure that folks taken into custody are not simply released due to concerns about potential emergency room costs and/or staffing needs for the inmate to receive help. In my opinion, releasing these inmates abandons them and, on some levels, may even contribute to their recidivism because they didn’t get the treatment needed. I would like to ensure we never have instances where people who have been arrested for serious crimes are released out of fear of simply bringing them to the hospital. If a prisoner is due to undergo a major medical procedure, I am understanding to their needs. However, releasing these inmates on arrival at the hospital jeopardizes the safety of the others in the hospital, and depending on the inmate, creates serious risks to our residents.
I hope with collaboration with Franklin Memorial Hospital or other medical facilities in our area, we could find payment options similar to that which are received by insurance companies (comparable to “in network” providers). Through this process I would hope to reduce the overall medical costs for common procedures which in the long run, could help with funding emergency room visits. Depending on the savings, we may even help to reduce costs to Franklin County tax payers and undoubtedly help ensure we are treating people the way we would want to be treated ourselves.
I would also really like to see inmates given the opportunity to participate in work release programs again. Historically, this was successful. These programs provide inmates an opportunity to connect with potential employers, gain experience, practice worth ethic, build confidence and self-esteem, and may help reduce their likelihood of returning to the jail after release.
For inmates unable to participate in off campus work, I would like to connect with local contractors to build portable buildings or similar projects on site. A program of this nature teaches a trade skill to the inmate and provide a small return on the costs to run them. A similar program is in place through the Maine Department of Corrections (Click here for more information). I would also like to consider re-instituting the gardening program Sheriff Pike started.
If elected Sheriff, I would like to work directly with jail staff to hear their input as to how we can improve their working conditions. Corrections is one of the toughest jobs in the criminal justice field and has some of the highest rates of turnover in employees. Working together will provide us a team approach to the areas where we can do better.