The number of women incarcerated in Maine is rising fast. In the past six years the number of female inmates at the Maine Correctional Center (MCC) in Windham has grown from about 150 to more than 220, as of April. And the state Department of Corrections has a problem: the overcrowded women’s facility is housed in a men’s prison.
This week administrators will lay out their plan to address it, but not everyone is on board.
The overcrowding problem, says Warden Scott Landry, is directly linked to Maine’s opioid crisis. More than 50 percent of the women who wind up at the Maine Correctional Center have been convicted of drug crimes. That is true for only about 30 percent of the men.
In the B-pod, Landry says the overcrowding problem for women is made more difficult by the fact that some of them are now living in a building made for temporary housing that also houses men. Both are required be kept apart by sight and sound.
“It’s pretty tight quarters,” says Landry. “Twenty-four beds in here, and it’s really intended for higher security, not for long-term housing. You can see that daylight is more limited.”