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Sheriff: Coach's escorted release from prison not a policy violation

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Sheriff: Coach's escorted release from prison not a policy violation

PORTLAND — An intake sergeant who helped a former Deering High School baseball coach avoid the news media when the coach was released from the Cumberland County Jail did not violate jail policy and did not provide special treatment to the prisoner, Sheriff Mark Dion said last week.

The release, however, was inconsistent with past practice, Dion said, and jail officials are working on formal guidelines for the release of prisoners – an issue not addressed in current policy.

The Sheriff's Department launched an investigation into the March 3 release of Frank Watson, the former baseball coach who was serving a 10-day sentence for furnishing both alcohol and a place for minors to consume alcohol following Deering's state baseball championship last year.

According to the internal investigation, Watson had originally agreed to an interview with WGME-TV news upon his release, but changed his mind without informing the station. In an effort to help Watson avoid the media, an intake sergeant placed the former coach in a vehicle and transported Watson off jail grounds, where he was picked up by his wife.

"The sergeant felt that that course of action was consistent with policy and practice involving solicitations of media interviews and the rights of inmates to refuse such contact," Dion said in a press release. "Watson's prior status as an assistant baseball coach appears to have little bearing on the decisions made by the parties involved."

However, Dion said prison policy does not address release protocol, aside from administrative paperwork. Dion said release protocols will be developed and incorporated into existing policy.

"I have discussed the incident in great detail with the affected staff and I am confident that such an incident will not repeat itself," the sheriff said. 

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net.