This article was published by the Portland Press Herald, which requires a subscription to read online articles. View the article online through the link below or read a snippet copied from the article, below.
Letter to the editor: Legislature must prioritize mental illness, substance use services
‘Using Maine’s jails as a de facto mental health hospital and/or detox facility is not a viable resolution,’ Cumberland County’s sheriff says.
For the past 12 years as sheriff, I have been advocating that more services be made available for individuals suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.
Until the recent opening of the Spurwink 24-Hour Crisis Center, there were very few alternatives for law enforcement officers to find assistance for these individuals. The only options were taking them to the emergency room or county jail. Bringing the mentally ill to jail, in most cases, is not the appropriate or acceptable way to address mental illness, or the mental health crisis in this state.
Recently, the Legislature considered several bills in an attempt to reduce the overincarceration of individuals suffering from substance use disorders and mental illness. If the Legislature wants results to substantially reduce the inmate population in Maine’s jails, then it is imperative they be aggressive with their solutions. Using Maine’s jails as a de facto mental health hospital and/or detox facility is not a viable resolution.