May 24, 2019

Officials say inmates’ transition to new state prison goes smoothly

THOMASTON – The shift of inmates from the 178-year-old Maine State Prison to the new $76 million penal institution five miles away in Warren rolled along smoothly Tuesday, Corrections Department officials said.

It was the second moving day for inmates at the Thomaston prison, which housed roughly 450 prisoners. As of midday Tuesday, 160 inmates remained inside the old penitentiary. The shifting of inmates was expected to wrap up today, said Associate Corrections Commissioner Denise Lord.

For the most part, inmates were continuing to cooperate, Lord said, but a few of the prisoners were “acting up in the evening.”

Those who remained in the old prison were moved into one area, Warden Jeffrey Merrill said.

The transfer of prisoners has gone “better than expected,” Merrill said.

He said keeping them posted on the procedures for the move has helped the prisoners accept the transition.

Merrill said staff members have handled the move well, too – “probably the most upbeat I’ve seen our staff in a long time. It’s been great.”

The warden said his return to the Thomaston prison Monday evening after moving a majority of the inmates gave him an “eerie feeling” since so much of the facility was empty.

Once the move is completed, the staff will “sweep” the building for any property inadvertently left behind, Merrill said. Then, the responsibility for the massive complex will shift from the Department of Corrections to the state Bureau of Financial Services, Lord said.

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