Here are a few links from around the web that we’ve been talking about.

‘Millennia’ of marriage being between man and woman weigh on justices

After Tuesday’s oral arguments, how will Mainers’ about-face on same-sex marriage weigh on Chief Justice Roberts’ decision? Some have seen Roberts as a possible swing vote for the liberal side of the debate.

According to The New York Times:

Chief Justice Roberts noted that Maine residents voted to outlaw same-sex marriage in 2009 and then reversed themselves and legalized it in 2012, showing that change can happen through expressions of popular will rather than judicial activism.

“That sort of quick change has been a characteristic of this debate,” he told proponents. “But if you prevail here, there will be no more debate. I mean, closing of debate can close minds, and it will have a consequence on how this new institution is accepted. People feel very differently about something if they have a chance to vote on it than if it’s imposed on them by the courts.”

— Erin Rhoda


A shocking number of mentally ill Americans end up in prison instead of treatment

Forty-four states, including Maine, have at least one prison where the number of people with serious mental illness outnumber the total population of the largest state-run mental health hospital.

Here’s Wonkblog on the history behind this trend:

After public psychiatric hospitals in the early 20th century came to be criticized for inhumane and disturbing treatments, beginning in the 1950s there was a movement to deinstitutionalize mental health and treat patients in more community-based treatment centers. At their highest peak in 1955, state mental hospitals held 558,922 patients. Today, they hold about 35,000 patients, and that number continues to fall.

For various reasons, these community treatment plans proved inadequate, leaving many of the mentally ill homeless or in jail. According to the Department of Justice, about 15 percent of state prisoners and 24 percent of jail inmates report symptoms meet the criteria for a psychotic disorder.

— Dan MacLeod 


When Susan Collins and Cyndi Lauper meet

After answering questions before a Senate subcommittee on youth homelessness, 1980s pop star-turned-advocate Cyndi Lauper had a chat with Susan Collins about the roadblock to legislation that would help at-risk youth, according to the New York Times.

The problem, Ms. Collins said, was “confusion” over parts of the amendment, including a measure misinterpreted as a restriction on faith-based organizations’ ability to show preference in hiring those of their own faith. Ms. Collins pointed out that the Justice Department already provided that protection. She said she hoped to clarify that when and take another crack at passing the measure she originally introduced.

“Well, when will that be, do you think?” Ms. Lauper asked.

“I don’t know exactly,” Ms. Collins said.

“Then what should we do?” Ms. Lauper said.

Keep pushing, Ms. Collins responded. But she has yet to discuss another effort to reauthorize the legislation, either as a stand-alone bill or an amendment, with Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky.

“Who is that guy?” Ms. Lauper asked.

“He is the majority leader,” Ms. Collins said. “He decides what comes to the floor.”  

— Erin Rhoda


Tax Incentive Programs: Evaluate today, improve tomorrow

In the wake of the revelation that financiers made off with $16 million in taxpayer money thanks to the state’s New Markets Tax Credits, how can states make sure these kinds of programs are actually working?

Pew Charitable Trusts has a three-step plan for states “on how to design and implement these laws, so that tax incentives are evaluated regularly and rigorously and so that lawmakers can use the findings to improve economic development policy.”

— Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...