There are currently no private prisons in the state of Maine. The Maine legislature passed a law in 2019 that prohibited the state of Maine from contracting private companies. This law was passed due to strong public opposition, the potential for inmate abuse, and the rising costs of prisons.
However, the Maine prison system is administered by the Maine Department of Corrections (DOC). The department is responsible for overseeing all adult correctional facilities in the state of Maine. The DOC currently operates six adult correctional facilities.
Adult Correctional Facilities In Maine
The state of Maine includes six adult correctional facilities that are:
Maine State Prison
The Maine State Prison is a maximum-security facility located in Warren. It can accommodate 916 inmates.
Bolduc Correctional Facility
The Bolduc Correctional Facility is a medium-security facility located in Windham. It can hold 500 prisoners.
Downeast Correctional Facility
The Downeast Correctional Facility is a medium-security facility located in Machiasport. It can house 300 inmates.
Mountain View Correctional Facility
The Mountain View Correctional Facility is a minimum-security facility located in Rangeley. It can accommodate 200 inmates.
Southern Maine Women's Reentry Center
The Southern Maine Women's Reentry Center is a minimum-security facility situated in South Portland. It can accommodate up to 150 inmates.
Long Creek Youth Development Center
The Long Creek Youth Development Center is a secure facility for young people ages 13-18 who have been committed to the state by the courts. It can house 260 inmates.
Apart from these, the DOC also operates some community-based and work-release programs to help inmates transition back into society.
Why There Are No Private Prisons In the State Of Maine?
The Maine legislature's decision to prohibit the use of private prisons is a positive step towards ensuring that the state's prison system is humane and cost-effective. It was also a significant victory for the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition.
The Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition had been campaigning against the use of private prisons in the state. The coalition argued that private prisons are more expensive than public prisons and that they do not provide the same level of care to inmates.
Strong Public Opposition
In the state of Maine, there is very little support for private prisons among the general public and policymakers. As public opinion and political consideration play a crucial role in decision-making regarding private prisons. This opposition is due to the lack of oversight of private prisons and the rising costs of private prisons.
Private prisons are prohibited or restricted in several states by legislation or regulations. Maine also has laws or regulations that prohibit the creation of private correctional institutions.
Low Imprisonment Rate
Maine has one of the nation's lowest imprisonment rates. The state may not have a high demand for private jail facilities due to its emphasis on rehabilitation and alternatives to imprisonment.
Maine's existing state-run prisons may have enough capacity to house the present inmate population. As a result, more correctional facilities, whether private or governmental, may be unnecessary.
Lack Of Oversight
Private jails are frequently less controlled than state prisons. This means that detainees in private prisons are more likely to be abused.
Inhumane conditions have been reported in several private prisons. Overcrowding, insufficient medical treatment, and poor food quality are all examples.
Challenges Faced By Maine’s Prison System
The Maine prison system is one of the most complex prison systems. It faces many challenges, but the most highlighted ones are overcrowding, drug addiction, and mental illness. These challenges are explained in detail below:
The Maine prison system is currently overcrowded. The DOC is currently operating at 107% of capacity.
Drug addiction is a major problem in the Maine prison system. About 60% of inmates in Maine prisons are addicted to drugs.
Mental illness is also a significant problem in the Maine prison system. About 30% of inmates in Maine prisons have a mental illness.
Hence, the Maine Department of Corrections is striving to address these challenges. The issue of overcrowding is being resolved by including more community-based programs. And mental illness and drug addiction issues are being managed by providing mental health and drug abuse treatments.