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Maine county jails seeing a 'revolving door'

Maine's law enforcement community is frustrated about people being arrested over and over.

PORTLAND, Maine — Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said he sees many of the same people in and out of his jail. He added that he once saw the same person 51 times in one year.

"That's a lot of arrests and what has that person learned? Obviously, nothing, because it took 51 times," Joyce said.

He told NEWS CENTER Maine that at the end of the day, the reasoning behind so many repeat offenders in Maine county jails is mental health and substance abuse issues.

"We gotta work on mental illness, they're making efforts but they're not huge efforts," Joyce said.

One of those efforts is a pilot program offering 24-hour crisis care in Portland that opened early last year.

The repeat offender issue is apparent in Cumberland County but is also a statewide issue, and Brewer Police Chief Jason Moffitt said his department sees it all the time.

"We had an individual with 23 active sets of bail conditions. We're regularly seeing people with 10 or more, that's fairly common at this point," Brewer Police Chief Jason Moffitt said.

In Penobscot County, one major factor in the issue is jail overcrowding, and it's partly because of the state's bail law that changed in October 2021, allowing less serious offenders to be released from jail.

"I think [we need to] make some adjustments to the current bail law," Moffitt added.

Moffitt said law enforcement and county leaders are working on new options for the jail, but it could take years, and the need is there now.

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