BANGOR, Maine - The Penobscot County Jail received a 100 percent compliance rating after it was inspected earlier this year by the Department of Corrections.
Sheriff Glenn Ross announced the results of the biennial inspection Tuesday at the weekly meeting of the Penobscot County commissioners.
“Most people don’ t have an appreciation of what goes in their county jail,” he said Wednesday, “but public safety is the biggest portion of the county budget. I would think that taxpayers would be pleased to see that the jail is run efficiently.”
The public safety budget that includes the jail and sheriff’ s office accounts for $8.2 million of the county’ s $14.45 million budget.
The inspection that took place June 4-5 was the first one for the jail since new standards went into effect in September 2005. It will be inspected again in 2010.
The report is based on Mane’ s Detention and Correctional Standards for Counties and Municipalities that were instituted three years ago by the Maine Department of Corrections. The compliance standards and inspection program was developed in partnership with the Maine Jail Administrators and Maine Sheriff’ s Association.
The relatively new compliance and inspection program gives individual counties greater responsibility for standard compliance by requiring them to implement and monitor their own practices to maintain compliance with essential jail standards, according to the DOC.
“This is essentially a pass-fail inspection,” County Administrator Bill Collins said Wednesday. “If the jail had not been in compliance in one area, it would have failed.”
The DOC then would have given the jail 60 days to comply.
In the past, according to Ross, inspections consisted of DOC personnel walking through the jail. Under the new standards, compliance to every standard must be documented on paper.
“To prepare for the inspection took hundreds of hours,” the sheriff said, “but it was a good review of our operation and allowed us to see where we might gain some efficiency.”
Ross praised the work of Capt. Richard Clukey, Lt. Ty Babb, Lt. Linda Golden and Sgt. Laura Labreton in preparing for the inspection.
The jail has been operating for the past two years under a variance from the DOC due to overcrowding that allows it to house 182 inmates rather than the 132 it is designed for. Without the variance, according to the DOC, the jail would not be in compliance with the new standards.
Even with the variance, the county often must pay other jails to board prisoners when it is over capacity. Ross said that Tuesday the jail boarded out 20 inmates due to overcrowding.
The jail is expected to ask for an extension of the variance later this year.