Penobscot County Jail. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

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It was shocking to hear that Penobscot County has a  plan to add enough space in Penobscot County Jail to nearly double the number of people it can hold. Haven’t we learned a thing? The  majority of individuals in our jails are there because of a health problem. They’re experiencing a substance use disorder and/or a mental health crisis. That’s a fact. It’s not debatable. We need to invest in solutions in our communities.

Putting more people out of sight in jails where many get worse would be harmful and an enormous step backward. No matter where someone lives in the state, the idea of expanding a jail when people are dying in the streets and in the jails makes no sense. Penobscot County could use those funds instead to save lives and keep people out of jail who need healing. Isn’t that what we want?

Daria Cullen