Portland – The ACLU of Maine last night urged dozens of top-level officials within the criminal legal system to take steps to reduce the number of people incarcerated in Maine’s jails and prisons. Public health experts have all clearly stated that preventing the harm inflicted by COVID-19 can become immensely more difficult for people involved in the criminal legal system. By following the recommendations outlined in the ACLU’s letter, state and local officials can create a culture in which transparency, safety, and the health of all people is the paramount concern.

“We are grateful to all the public and private actors taking urgent action to combat this pandemic,” said Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. “We urge decisionmakers to continue developing and implementing policies that align with guidance from public health experts, in order to minimize the harm inflicted on people involved in the criminal legal system and, by extension, the harm inflicted on broader communities.”

Beyea continued, “It is vitally important that we take steps to minimize the number of people in our jails and prisons. Preventing people from unnecessarily entering the criminal legal system in the first place, and ensuring that prisons and jails do not needlessly keep people incarcerated who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, is the best way to keep our jails, our courts, and our communities safe.”

The full text of the ACLU’s letter and recommendations is here: