While Maine courtrooms are starting to look more “pre-pandemic” this month, nearby jails remain locked in pandemic mode.

On June 30, Gov. Janet Mills rescinded her statewide emergency order for COVID-19 protocols.

State courts followed suit.

On July 1, Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill revised the standing judicial order to allow anyone who is fully vaccinated to enter Maine courthouses and courtrooms without a mask and the need to socially distance.

Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Although the new rule says that anyone who is not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask, security officials at state courthouses are not demanding proof of COVID-19 inoculation.

The scene at county jails in central Maine remains largely the same as it had been before the recent state orders.


At Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, inmates and corrections officers continue to be required to wear masks in so-called day spaces that are shared by other inmates, Sheriff Eric Samson said.

The number of vaccinated inmates hasn’t changed significantly since May when jail Administrator Maj. Jeffrey Chute reported that less than 20% of the jail population had been vaccinated.

Vaccines are offered during physical exams to inmates who are at the jail for more than a week. A COVID-19 vaccine is also available to any inmate at the jail who asks for one, Chute said.

Samson said there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks at the jail.

Oxford County Sheriff Christopher Wainwright reported Wednesday that the Oxford County Jail in South Paris also has had no recent outbreaks, but the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, where the Oxford jail sends inmates who are held more than 72 hours, experienced a sizable outbreak in May.

Wainwright said he expects his jail will transition by the end of August to a full-service facility, meaning he will no longer need to transfer inmates to Wiscasset.


But, in the meantime, because his jail is a “book and bail” facility, no vaccinations are being offered there, he said.

In Farmington, Franklin County Detention Center Administrator Maj. Douglas Blauvelt said Wednesday that “very few” inmates have been vaccinated despite its availability and easy accessibility at the jail.

By contrast, most jail staff have been vaccinated, though it’s not mandatory, he said.

There have been no COVID-19 outbreaks since January, he said.

Like other jails, protocols continue to include temperature taking, social distancing and masking for new inmates, who must undergo a 14-day quarantine, Blauvelt said.

Outside of Androscoggin County Jail, Samson said his administration has been operating without COVID-19 restrictions for employees since Gov. Mills lifted her emergency order. But any staff outside the jail who prefer to use a mask or other precautionary measures are free to do so, he said.


Spokesmen at the three jails said they are following Maine Center for Disease Control and Maine Department of Corrections recommended protocols.

Anna Black, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Corrections, said Wednesday that her agency is continuing to keep in place COVID-19 safety protocols and protections for state facilities.

Regarding county jails that are licensed through the department, Black said, “standards related to illness likes COVID are outlined in the jail standards.”

A jail’s sheriff or administrator is required by the department to develop policies and procedures and put in writing a communicable disease and infectious disease prevention and control program that is reviewed by the department, according to the state agency’s detention and correctional standards for Maine counties and municipalities.

The program must include: “at a minimum, prevention measures, an exposure control plan, standard isolation and other precautions for inmates and staff, and requirements for reporting outbreaks” of a variety of communicable and infectious diseases, including coronavirus, according to the standards.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.