Maine legislators have an opportunity to make a huge, positive difference for those people suffering the effects of substance use disorder by enacting LD 1492, “An Act to Reform Drug Sentencing Laws.” That law would ensure that our state has the proper public health approach to drugs. It also removes significant barriers to treatment services, chiefly brought upon by incarceration.

Incarcerating people with substance use disorder is counterproductive for them, their families and our communities. It costs taxpayers millions of dollars per year that could be much better spent on treatment. Jailing them has made the public no safer.

Incarceration typically removes a parent from the home, adversely affecting children. Recent studies confirm that having a father or mother in jail is the primary cause of young-person homelessness.

The current drug laws do far more harm than good and create a revolving door back to overcrowded, under-staffed county jails and prisons. That cycle prevents persons with substance use disorder from becoming productive community members.

We can and must help people to recover through compassionate care, supportive services and, most of all, love. Not through jail cells and felony records.

We need to discard our outdated drug sentencing laws and strengthen treatment and recovery in the state.

I urge legislators to support LD 1492.

James Lysen, Lewiston

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