Penobscot County Jail. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

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People across Maine should be very concerned about a proposal to greatly expand the number of beds in Penobscot County Jail. There is ample research and evidence to demonstrate that jailing more people is a misguided approach to safeguarding the public or helping the individuals who are incarcerated.

If we aim to make a meaningful difference, our resources and attention should be squarely focused on community-based solutions to the root causes of incarceration. There’s no mystery. If we invest in housing, mental health care, substance use treatment and harm reduction services, our jail population will drop dramatically and our communities will be much safer.

Decriminalize people who use drugs.

Divest from the police, county jails and state prisons. Invest in people. Invest in community resources to meet complex needs.

Marion Anderson