The York County Jail in Alfred is understaffed by 65 percent.
The York County Jail in Alfred. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Almost all of Maine’s 15 county jails are understaffed, and some are missing more than half of the employees they need to fully operate.

The problems are especially dire at the York County Jail in Alfred, which is understaffed by 65 percent. Knox County reports that staffing is down 60 percent, and Cumberland County down 47 percent.

The Penobscot County Jail is missing nearly a third of the workers it needs to operate, according to data the Maine Sheriffs Association provided to a special committee, which is studying whether residents in state prisons, county jails and other correctional facilities in Maine can confidentially communicate with their attorneys as the constitution requires.

The sheriffs association president, Dale Lancaster, said county jails are stretched to their limits. The Somerset County Jail that he oversees just lost two staff members earlier this week.

“At the time of this reporting, I was unfilled at 44 percent,” he told the Commission to Ensure Constitutionally Adequate Contact with Counsel, which met again Wednesday. “And I had two walk off last night, so that just increases that number.”

Only one jail in Maine, the Waldo County Correctional Facility, reported that it was fully staffed.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.