The ACLU of Maine today urged legislators to reject a bill that would reinstate felony-level penalties for some low-level drug crimes. LD 1554 would reverse the progress made last year, when the Legislature passed multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation to address Maine’s drug addiction crisis. Those policies recognized that Mainers who suffer from substance use disorders need treatment, not jail. 

As the ACLU argued in its testimony: 

“A sound criminal justice policy will respond to social harms in a way that addresses underlying problems, fosters safe and healthy communities, serves the needs of victims, and imposes real accountability on those who commit harm. A sound policy does not reflexively assume that imposing more criminal penalties signifies a more serious engagement with the problem. We have tried to arrest our way out of a public health crisis, and it has not worked.

“LD 1554 as written cannot be characterized as a housekeeping measure that simply resolves a conflict in statute. The proposal before you rolls back significant progress made to Maine’s drug policies just months ago and will do real harm to Mainers with substance use disorders.”

The full text of the testimony is available here: