MACHAISPORT (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Laid-off workers from the shuttered Downeast Correctional Facility have joined a lawsuit to re-open the prison that a judge deemed was illegally closed by Governor LePage.
Lawyers representing two workers unions have joined a lawsuit with Washington County, the Town of Machiasport and Attorney General Janet Mills against the Department of Corrections.
The workers' unions want all employees, who were terminated when Gov. Paul LePage closed the minimum security prison in February, to immediately get back on payroll and for the state to pay them for the time since the prison closed.
The unions who have joined the lawsuit are the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), District Council 93.
On Thursday, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy granted a temporary injunction after she concluded that only lawmakers, not the Department of Corrections, have the authority to close the Downeast Correctional Facility.
One of the lawyers representing workers, David Webbert said the prison must re-open because the judge said it was illegally closed. That means employees need to be paid and prisoners need to return.
"If there are no prisoners, it is not an open prison."
Webbert says his clients hope the Department of Corrections will follow the law.