Bailey appointed permanent jail administrator
James Bailey, who has been serving as interim jail administrator at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset since October, was appointed permanent jail administrator Sept. 27 at a special meeting of the jail authority.
Bailey brings 17 years’ experience in corrections to the job; prior to working at Kennebec County Jail, Lincoln County Jail and TBRJ, he worked at Washburn and Doughty constructing tugboats. He was one of the original members of the transition team before the prior jail closed.
Bailey climbed the ladder from corrections officer through the ranks. When he made interim administrator in October, after administrator Mark Westrum was placed on administrative leave, he had attained the rank of captain.
He said although many people don’t understand or appreciate what the jail does, he gets thank you’s from former inmates wherever he goes. “At the Topsham Fair, at the grocery store ... people come up to me and thank me for helping them through a bad time in their lives. Most of the inmates are here because they made a bad choice, a mistake, not because they’re bad people.”
Bailey plans to focus on security staff, to give them breaks so they don’t get burnt out in what can be a high-stress job. “I’d also like to focus on programming,” he said. “When we first started, programming was central to our mission.” Now that the jail is getting many inmates from other counties, he wants to show those sending counties what kind of value they are getting for their money, he said. Inmates can learn job skills through the wood shop, the garden, and more. In his favorite program, “Beyond the Bars,” inmates train dogs unlikely to be placed with families due to behavior issues. The first few dogs have graduated and found families. Their progress can be followed at tbrj.org
“A lot of people forget that when an inmate’s time is up, he or she is back in the community,” he said. “They’re going to need skills to get by on the outside, and this is the place where they can be offered. It’s important to the community that we provide them so they don’t end up re-offending.”
Six people were interviewed for the administrator job over two and a half months. Bailey and the other final candidate were asked to make presentations to the authority’s executive committee; Bailey’s presentation was on financial stability at the jail.
Bailey, of Topsham is engaged to be married in June; by a previous relationship, he has three daughters. His fiancee has two sons.
“I’d like to thank the whole staff and the authority for supporting me during this period,” he said. “It was an uncertain time, and everyone worked together beautifully.”