In the recent Maine gubernatorial campaign the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest for-profit prison operator, spent $25,000 on behalf of Republican candidate Paul LePage, now the governor-elect. Although his transition office denies a link with the contribution, LePage has met with the company’s weeks before becoming governor, reports the Portland (Me.) Phoenix. The meeting breathed new life into the town of Milo’s effort to lure CCA into building a giant prison in that remote, impoverished community.
Milo officials also met with LePage. The town manager, Jeff Gahagan, says company officials have talked about a prison housing 2000 to 2400 inmates with 200 to 300 employees. If true, that would be an extraordinarily small number of staff for such a large number of prisoners. The Maine State Prison has just over 400 workers – most of them guards – to deal with just over 900 prisoners. LePage also is looking into boarding Maine inmates in CCA prisons out of state. State law bars putting Maine prisoners in a for-profit prison, and David Farmer, a top aide to the current governor, John Baldacci, a Democrat, told the Bangor Daily News that CCA had informed Baldacci “straight out that unless we were willing, as a state, to send prisoners to their institutions or at least let them compete, they would not build in Maine.” Dan Demeritt, the governor-elect’s spokesman, says LePage will try to get the law changed in the new Republican-dominated Legislature “if it makes sense, if it’s a good deal for the taxpayer.”