November 3, 2013

Farmington attorney seeks release of sex-assault suspect

By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

“I don’t think that will solve any of the problems here,” he said. “As the prosecution we would prefer the bail in remain in place and he be held in a local jail.”

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said the debate shows the problems created by the consolidated jail system, which he criticized for unnecessarily separating inmates from their families and attorneys when they could be held in a local jail.

Nichols has said his department has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on transport costs since the start of the consolidated system.

“It’s one of the many issues with this whole situation,” he said. “I’m surprised he’s the only one who’s complained so far,” he said.

Franklin County Jail Administrator Doug Blauvelt said the inmates go wherever there is bed space.

He said there are 12 county inmates being held in the Windham prison as of Friday, but the number frequently changes as arrests are made and cases are dispensed with.

Jim Burke, professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law, said he is familiar with the ongoing dispute between Franklin County and the unified jail system, and though he has not reviewed Hanstein’s specific motion, he said there is merit to the argument that being held out of county violates Franklin County inmates’ constitutional rights.

Burke said the judge has a difficult case to decide whether to agree Parker needs to be released because of his right of reasonable access to an attorney or to decide the public safety is compromised if a high-risk offender is released on a no-cash bail.

However, he said, whatever decision the judge makes will likely not significantly affect the ongoing debate surrounding the jails.

“I don’t think realistically this will be a case where the judge orders a solution to the huge problem of jails and funding and who’s going to hold who where at who’s expense,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

kschroeder@centralmaine.com

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