Much has been said in the press lately about the “evening sojourn” of two of the inmates in the Cumberland County Jail.

It is true, this was an inexcusable lapse by those in charge, by officers on duty at the time and by policies within the system.

This should not happen and actions are being taken to prevent this from occurring again.

However, this was one event in a long history of safe, secure and proper handling of inmates within the county jail.

Since the jail was built in 1994, very few events have transpired causing any safety concerns.

In the past year, the Cumberland County Jail has housed 11,131 persons, some of the “worst of the worst,” including federal prisoners from around the country.

The staff provides a safe, healthy environment for the inmates on a 24/7/365 basis, often being subjected to abusive situations.

In the past year, the county transported 6,252 adults to the county courthouse, 13 to court in Bridgton, 12 to court in Bath and 417 juveniles to all courts for hearings.

This was done safely and without incident.

All too often, one negative event far exceeds the positives done by those who serve the public faithfully and safely each and every day, often putting their own lives in harm’s way.

You can rest assured the events leading to this “sojourn” will be investigated and remedied.

But we should also thank the officers for protecting our public safety in our jails and in the line of duty on the streets every day.

They choose the profession of public safety and should be applauded for their choice and thanked for their service.

Susan Witonis

Chair, Cumberland County Board of Commissioners

Peter Crichton

Cumberland County Manager



I am shocked that an inmate (maximum-security inmate) can leave his cell in the middle of the night and go to a woman’s cell for a visit.

Does he have keys to the cells or do they not lock the doors anymore?

The article says corrections officials have made changes to prevent such a thing.

What changes have they made?

Do they now lock up the prisoners?

I’d like answers to this situation and I think the public deserves answers. That “changes have been made” is not good enough for me.

Bob Semple



Time to close the checkbook and let GoMaine vans go


It is time for the GoMaine program to get gone.

In the letter to the editor on March 13th, the authors (who one can assume are riders) state their case that van-pooling is “good for our environment and good for our roads.”

I quite agree.

However, why should Maine be in this business at all?

If, as the writers state, this program really generates an annual surplus, then there should be any number of private companies who will jump at the chance to provide this service based on age-old, profit-driven motive.

The fact that none are interested speaks volumes.

The state cannot pay its bills for basic necessities, yet we are now concerned about some people not having state-owned vehicles to get to work in?


Mind you, these vans are not for transporting disabled kids to summer camp, or taking unemployed folks to job fairs, or taking elderly patients to see their doctors.

No, THESE vans are being purchased, insured and maintained so professional people (many are state employees, according to WCSH) can have a ride to work.

Maine needs to start closing the checkbook.

In the same month that the Legislature is wrestling with how to fund nursing homes for our low income, elderly patients and trying to figure out Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements to health care providers, these van people should be embarrassed to be so publicly standing at the well with their hands out.

Why should they get subsidized rides to work

Do you?

I completely agree with the notion that mass transit (including van pools where applicable) is a great idea.

The truth of the matter is that the welfare state can no longer afford such frivolities.

Craig K. Scott


A check of maps tells a different east-west story


A feasibility study for a private east-west highway has just cleared another legislative hurdle.

With $300,000 in taxpayer money on the line, I figured it might pay to do a little informal studying myself.

I suggest our state senators give it a try. Playing around with Google maps or Mapquest, Maine certainly looks like an obstacle between the Canadian Maritime provinces and the cities of the St. Lawrence, at least until you look at driving times and think about border crossings.

The proposed east-west road would extend from Calais to Coburn Gore.

If the project were only interested in connecting St. John, N.B, to Montreal, this route might make sense.

A quick look at the map tells us otherwise. The highways that connect Fredricton and Moncton, N.B., Halifax, N.S., and Prince Edward Island are well north of the planned road, and already connect directly to the Houlton border crossing and Interstate 95.

Even if the proposed toll route were the most direct, it would compete with the Airline (Route 9) from Calais to Bangor, an existing toll-free high-speed road.

There is certainly room for improvement on the western end, right?

Travel through the western mountains can be a slow affair. Unfortunately, travel through Quebec’s eastern townships is just about as slow, on just as beat-up roads.

For Coburn Gore to work as an endpoint, similar road improvements would have to take place in Canada.

How much distance/time would an east-west highway save a driver?

According to Google maps, it takes around 5 hours to make the 233 mile drive from Calais to Coburn Gore.

Highway speeds over the 233 miles would cut the drive by an hour and a half. That is great for travel within the state, but add two slow border crossings and a new road looks a little less worthwhile.

Jordan Kramer