Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison is highly critical of a proposal by the state to takeover control of the county jails.

She said prior action by the state to create a Board of Corrections was a failure.

"We (Knox) are now just recovering from it," Dennison said in a Feb. 9 statement.

And as far as the new plan is concerned, the veteran sheriff said that it is too administratively top heavy.

"One of worst things about their plan I see is the hierarchy and upper level of control. Way too much. Usually those involved know little to nothing about running a jail," the sheriff said.

The sheriff said she was concerned that the state would keep open the largest county jails such as Cumberland, Penobscot, Two Bridges in Wiscasset, Skowhegan and York.

"The counties and taxpayers paid a lot of money to get these jails up and running. Are they going to be reimbursed?  Police departments will have to transport their prisoners to another jail which could be a sustained distance," Dennison said.

"This is only my feelings about it. Unfortunately there is no easy answer," she said.

According to the Portland Press Herald, a Maine Department of Corrections report to the Legislature is recommending sweeping changes in how the state’s county jails are managed and funded, including the creation of three regional jail authorities for northern, southern and coastal areas, saving the state a projected $10 million a year, initially.

Each region would include jails in multiple counties and would be managed by a local jail authority but overseen at the state level by a new Maine Jail Commission, according to the report that was requested by the Legislature in 2017.

The report notes the state could close one to two jails in each region.

A spreadsheet accompanying the report appears to reflect the closing of five county jails, including those in Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford, Piscataquis and Washington counties, according to the Press Herald.

The state has 15 jails, with Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties sharing the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

In 2017 it cost $87 million to operate county jails, with the state covering about $15.3 million of those costs. The report estimates consolidation could save as much as $10 million a year in staffing costs, but also notes those savings would diminish over time, the Portland paper reports.

“The regional, or multi-county approach has the potential to lower facility, staffing and purchasing costs, improve delivery of services, improve bed space utilization and boarding rate issues, while positively impacting public safety,” the report states. “This is a fiscally responsible approach that reflects the need for authority by granting powers, including that of imposing penalties upon involved stakeholders who act with disregard for the mandates directed by the Maine Jail Commission.”