Letter to the editor: Re-elect Waldo County Sheriff Jeff Trafton

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 10:30am

Since becoming District Attorney in Waldo County, I have been extremely lucky to work with the Waldo County Sheriff Jeff Trafton.  I have consistently been impressed as I work with him and as I learn more about him.  I'll start by describing his background, because it shows volumes about what a great person he is and his true commitment to service of others.  

Jeff has a long impressive record of service to this country and to this community.  He joined the Marines after high school.  After four years in the Marines, he joined the Maine State Police in 1984 and was assigned to rural patrol in Waldo County.  He received the honor of being named Maine State Trooper of the Year in 1991.  He supervised the patrol section of State Troopers working in the Mid-Coast after being promoted to Patrol Sergeant in 1995.  In 2000, he was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned as the Commander of Troop D where he was responsible for all State Police Patrol Operations in the Mid-Coast.  In 2005, he became Chief of Police for the Belfast Police Department, where he served until 2011 when he was invited to join the Waldo County Sheriff's Office as the Chief Deputy.  In 2014, he was elected Sheriff of Waldo County and took office in 2015.  Throughout much of his law enforcement career, he continued to serve this county as a member of the Maine Army National Guard.  He retired as a Captain with twenty-one years of total active and reserve service.  

Jeff is also a family man.  He lives with his wife in Thorndike.  Together they have three daughters and three grandchildren.   

One of the most impressive things about Sheriff Trafton is how well he's done with the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center.  The Reentry Center a residential center in Belfast, operating in part of the former Waldo County Jail.  It's designed to give incarcerated men the skills and experience they need to live successfully as citizens and employees as they transition into their home communities.  These men are provided with regular treatment, as well as educational and vocational opportunities focused on reducing recidivism.   

Under Sheriff Trafton's watch, this program has continued to be a great success and continues to get stronger.  The recidivism rate for inmates who go through the reentry center is less than half of the national average.  This program encourages accountability for offenders.  Over the stretch of 5 years, the reentry center has facilitated the collection of $171,000 in back child support, and it also enables offenders to get an early start paying back restitution that they owe from their crimes.  One of the most famous aspects of the reentry center is the community garden, cultivated by the reentry center residents.  In 2017, this garden yielded 109,000 lbs of produce which was given to various towns in Waldo County.  This produce is also used in the reentry center kitchen, and significantly offsets costs.  This brings me to my final point about the reentry center: it makes fiscal sense.  The cost per inmate at the reentry center is $22,000 per year, compared to the average costs at a conventional jail being over $40,000 per year.  This program is a win for everyone, and Sheriff Trafton has been a leader who makes it possible.  

It's an honor and a privilege to work with someone like Jeff, and I hope that he continues to serve Waldo County as Sheriff for many years.  I fully endorse him, and I encourage Waldo County voters to re-elect him in November.  

 Jonathan Liberman is the district attorney for Prosecutorial District 6, comprising Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties.