The first presentation to the Maine interbranch Commission on the Sentencing, Supervision, Incarceration and Management of Offenders introduces the Justice Reinvestment process and examines criminal justice and behavioral health trends and challenges in Maine.
Maine faces a number of pressing public safety challenges. Like other northeastern states, Maine has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, with an opioid overdose death rate that is among the highest in the nation. The opioid crisis has created substantial operational and resource challenges for both local and state justice and behavioral health systems in the state, exacerbating existing stress on those systems. Further, despite having the nation’s second-lowest incarceration rate and a steady decline in overall reported crime, Maine’s prison population has increased in recent years, particularly for women. Probation revocations account for more than 40 percent of prison admissions in Maine, which many state leaders attribute to a lack of community-based programming and resources for people with mental illnesses and substance addictions.
In the summer of 2019, Maine leaders requested and received support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) to utilize a Justice Reinvestment approach to address these challenges. Staff from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center will provide intensive technical assistance by collecting and analyzing data and helping develop appropriate policy options to contain corrections spending and increase public safety.
The Justice Reinvestment effort will be guided by the newly revived interbranch Commission on the Sentencing, Supervision, Incarceration and Management of Offenders. In the coming months, the commission will analyze findings and develop policy options for the legislature’s consideration in early 2020.