Maine panel backs corrections commissioner

Posted Feb. 14, 2011, at 5:13 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A legislative panel has endorsed Joseph Ponte as state corrections commissioner, making his Senate confirmation a near certainty.

Gov. Paul LePage’s nominee received a strong 10-2 vote of approval Monday from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Ponte has held administrative positions in corrections systems in several states. His resume shows he also has worked for a firm that runs prisons, including Corrections Corporation of America, his employer since 2006. LePage said Ponte’s association with CCA should not be taken as a gesture favoring privatization of Maine’s prison system.

Maine’s Corrections Department oversees six facilities housing more than 1,800 inmates.