In partnership with Maine state leaders, the CSG Justice Center is working on several key criminal justice initiatives to increase public safety, including Stepping Up and Justice Reinvestment.
Justice Reinvestment in Maine
In summer 2019, the CSG Justice Center embarked on a Justice Reinvestment approach in Maine to help state leaders identify and address the most pressing criminal justice system challenges.
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.
- Justice Reinvestment in Maine: Overview (December 16, 2019): This overview outlines a number of criminal justice challenges in Maine, including high opioid overdose death rates and a growing prison population, and provides a summary of the stages of the Justice Reinvestment process.
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