Business leaders and politicians in a small community Down East are opposing Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to save $5 million by closing a nearby prison.

Maine Public reports that employers in the sparsely populated community of Machiasport increasingly depend on the labor provided by incarcerated and released inmates.

It’s not the first time the state has considered closing the facility, which holds just 150 inmates.

The Downeast Correctional Facility provides 51 jobs.

The owner of a wreath company says prisoners “volunteer” for work assignments at his company and says they would be hard to replace.

But state corrections officials say that inmates could be housed more efficiently at other institutions, and that some could be released under a monitored ankle bracelet program.

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