Penobscot County Jail. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

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I have been following the news about the proposed expansion of the Penobscot County Jail with distress. This is the last thing we should be spending public funds on in Maine. We know that jails and prisons can add harm to harm,   enhance trauma,   deepen poverty, have monumental failure rates (measured in   rates of recidivism), and are incapable of effectively handling and addressing substance use disorder. We know that the   vast majority of people who end up in jail are poor, traumatized, and/or struggling with mental illness or substance use disorder.

Jail is a horrible, brutal, and cruel way to manage social problems. Take these funds and invest them in community support structures that actually address and ameliorate poverty, mental illness, trauma, and substance use disorder.

Catherine Besteman