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Maine lawmakers look to protect phone calls as attorney-client privilege in jail

A proposed bill would make prisoner phone calls to lawyers free and explicitly protected by attorney-client privilege.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Some lawmakers in Maine are looking to make it easier for prisoners to make phone calls to their attorneys in jail and explicitly protect them under attorney-client privilege.

"What I found was that over 1,000 of these phone calls were recorded in a span of a single year by six jails," Maine Monitor Reporter Samantha Hogan told NEWS CENTER Maine.

Hogan said every phone call coming into a Maine jail is recorded — even those between an attorney and their client.

"There are very serious security reasons why this needs to happen," Hogan added. "The constitution actually says that if you’re a prisoner, you have the right to have an attorney and to have a private conversation with them to build a defense."

This is why state Rep. Tavis Hasenfus, D-Readfield, is sponsoring a bill that would reaffirm prisoner jail calls to a lawyer are protected under attorney-client privilege and make them free. 

"The client needs to feel comfortable that what they're saying to their attorney is told in confidence and the attorney needs to feel as though it's a confidential communication," Hasenfus said. "The goal of this is to just make the process works a little bit better, a little bit easier."

The bill awaits a public hearing.

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