No person should be imprisoned when they have not been convicted of a crime and need medical care – but LD 2046 would have done exactly that.

The original version of LD 2046 would have made permanent a policy allowing the state to incarcerate legally innocent people who need health care simply because the state is not providing the resources for that care. A prison is not a substitute for a hospital, and this legislation would imprison people who have not been found guilty of committing a crime.

The House passed the original version of LD 2046, but the Senate passed an amended version to end this dangerous policy in July 2027. The House concurred with the Senate, marking an important victory.

Innocent until proven guilty:

Incarcerating legally innocent people erodes the principle that we are all presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In 2013, the legislature temporarily allowed the state to transfer patients who were deemed incompetent to stand trial – and who had not been found guilty of any crime – to the Intensive Mental Health Unit at the Maine State Prison. This was not intended to be a permanent solution. However, the policy has been extended several times, and lawmakers attempted to make it permanent with the original version of LD 2046.

When hospital beds are full, the state must find other health care alternatives and consider why it is entangling so many people in the legal system. A prison will never be a hospital and an innocent person should never be imprisoned because they are living with a health condition. If the state has the capacity to care for people with acute mental illness in a prison setting, then it has the capacity to provide health care outside of a prison setting. 

Bill Movement:

This bill originated at the end of 2023, moving into the Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature.


Representative Suzanne M. Salisbury


The Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature

Bill number



ACLU of Maine Policy Counsel Michael Kebede delivered testimony to the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety on January 17, 2024, during the Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature.