Maine Government News
Commissioners Visit Innovative Program at Bolduc Correctional Facility That Heals Horses, Inmates
November 19, 2012
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
AUGUSTA, Maine – State officials and guests had the opportunity on Thursday to visit the new ShelterMe horse program that has inmates at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren rehabilitating hard-to-adopt horses – and themselves.
ShelterMe – the first program of its kind in Maine to involve horses and prisoners – is a collaborative effort between the Maine departments of Corrections and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) that uses inmates at the Bolduc facility to care for and work with horses that are difficult to place in adoption.
Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte and ACF Commissioner Walter Whitcomb were joined by board members of the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals including Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Windham) and other visitors in meeting the first two horses being cared for by facility inmates through the innovative program and touring the renovated horse barn at the correctional center.
“This is a program that suits the needs of a specific group of offenders, and it is having a positive outcome for both them and the horses. It also is a chance to give back to the community,” Commissioner Ponte said.
“The ShelterMe program has so many positive aspects,” agreed Commissioner Whitcomb. “It gives the inmates confidence and it gives care to the animals, and it’s also reviving an historic Maine farmstead. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
Currently two older horses – Lincoln and Bradley – are living at the center, and two prisoners are caring for them. The program hopes to take in more horses in the coming months and can house as many as six, managed by three to four prisoner-caretakers who are paid a $150 stipend out of the prisoners’ account and is not from taxpayers.
DACF’s Animal Welfare Program provides funding toward veterinary costs and cost of special feed for the horses; hay is grown and provided by the prison, which also renovated and maintains the stable for the horses.
The Bolduc Correctional Facility was built in the early 1930s as a farm barracks for the Maine State Prison. Known then as the "Prison Farm,” it grew to be one of the largest dairy and beef farms in Maine. It closed in 1970, and the center became a vocational training center for prisoners.
Through a public referendum, Bolduc was transformed and renovated starting in 1990 into the current Bolduc Correctional Facility, with Ben Beal as the facility director. The center has 122 male prisoners, with a population capacity of 222, and 65 staff members. The custody level of prisoners is minimum/community for inmates with less than three years remaining on their sentences.
(Photo courtesy of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry)Lincoln, a rehabilitation horse at the ShelterMe horse program, Bolduc Correctional Facility, Warren, gets a last-minute bit of grooming from his caretaker, Chris, before being shown at a public presentation on Thursday, Nov. 15. Lincoln is one of two horses being cared for at the facility by prison caretakers.