AUGUSTA– On Tuesday, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced legislation to support the construction of a new holding facility in Caribou at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. LD 1457, An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for a Jail in Caribou comes amid increased use of the current facility by local and regional law enforcement agencies.
“The current jail in Caribou increasingly serves as a holding facility for the entire region, and the size and state of the building do not adequately support this work. A new jail will better support local and regional law enforcement in northern Aroostook County and ensure that justice can be served,” said President Jackson. “I’m grateful to Chief Gahagan and his colleagues on this issue for their efforts on a thoughtful plan that deserves state support.”
The current holding facility within the Caribou Police Station is one of two in Aroostook County and is used heavily by law enforcement across the region. Much like the rest of the station, the 80-year-old building lacks the space to serve all the municipalities that rely on the facility and is plagued with structural issues, including leaky faucets and mold. The jail’s central location in the northern part of the state’s largest county has led to increased use by local law enforcement and state troopers to conduct interviews, process evidence, write reports, and temporarily hold individuals.
“Law Enforcement agencies in northern Aroostook County depend on the 72-hour holding facility [in Caribou], said Michael Gahagan, Chief of the Caribou Police Department. “Utilizing the facility saves those communities time and money by not transporting prisoners to the Aroostook County Jail.”
The proposal for a new holding facility in Caribou is supported by the Aroostook County Sheriff, Maine State Police’s Commanding Officer for the Maine Troop F (which covers Aroostook County), and the Police Chiefs in Ashland, Washburn, Fort Fairfield, and Presque Isle.
LD 1457 faces additional work sessions in committee.