Neighbors Knox and Waldo counties will be sharing jail services, the two sheriffs announced Thursday, in an effort to rehabilitate inmates and save taxpayers money.

The Knox County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday, June 11, for the agreement. Waldo County commissioners approved the collaborative venture earlier, on May 2.

"The unified correctional administrator will coordinate the correctional operations for both Knox and Waldo County, creating a progressively efficient, fiscally responsible regional correction system," the two sheriffs announced in a news release and at a joint June 13 news conference.

Waldo County Corrections Administrator Major Raymond Porter will serve in the position beginning July 1.

Both counties are unique, Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll and Waldo County Sheriff Jeffrey Trafton stated at the news conference. Waldo County operates a full-service men's re-entry center and Knox operates a traditional jail.

"It is our belief that this county collaboration along with the relationships we share with organizations such as Maine Pretrial Services, Volunteers of America, the Restorative Justice Project, the Maine Department of Corrections, the faith-based and medical community community will allow us to reduce bed days across the system, better utilize one another's strengths and reduce recidivism," the sheriffs said.

This will be the only arrangement of its kind in the state, they said.

Sheriff Trafton pointed out that years ago, Waldo County was incarcerating 60 to 70 people a day on average. Now, through diversion programs, those numbers of Waldo County residents are down to the low 20s.

"Warehousing people just does not work," Trafton said. He said the community realizes that as well.

Trafton said that, over the past decade, the county has learned that people can be rehabilitated, making them productive citizens, while saving money for taxpayers.

This effort is also needed to address the opiate addiction crisis, the sheriffs said.