This Thanksgiving Day it happened again. Yet another familiar face showed up for our weekly ministry at the Androscoggin County Jail. Though it was good to see this person again, it was not the place we would have preferred to meet and catch up.

In the past five years, in my work as part of the Prince of Peace Ministry at ACJ, this is a common reality — familiar faces coming back to the jail for various offenses, but most commonly for drug charges related to alleged possession and trafficking. As with most of these folks, this man received no treatment since his last visit and the quantity of drugs he possessed was the amount he and his girlfriend would use in three days. Yet, he is facing significant trafficking charges. As he put it, “We sell drugs because we need to” in order to afford their disease’s demand for more drugs.

For that and many more reasons, I support LD 1492 — legislation designed to reduce sentencing for possession and, most importantly, divert folks like this man and his girlfriend from the criminal justice system to evidence-based treatment. Choosing restorative, transformational treatment practices over punitive approaches to substance use disorders. As a person in long-term recovery, I understand the human toll this disease inflicts on our families and community. My recovery is the result of a loving, caring community and family supporting my recovery.

We lost the war on drugs long ago. Time for a new approach. LD 1492 is a good start.

Bruce Noddin, executive director

Maine Prisoner Re-Entry Network, Lewiston.

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