By Ramona du Houx
A measure to expand treatment, education and work programs offered to inmates by the Maine Department of Corrections earned support from legislative leaders on November 30, 2017.
“This is not only a public safety bill, but also one that will bring significant cost savings to the system. Investing in reducing the likelihood of re-offense once former inmates return to our communities is the best use of available resources and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, former head of Maine's NAACP and the bill’s sponsor. “This is an evidence-based approach that holds offenders accountable and advances a more rehabilitative, restorative correctional system.”
State and federal incarceration rates in the U.S. rose dramatically between 1973 and 2009, a trend that has failed to control crime and caused serious consequences for those imprisoned as well as their families and communities, according to the National Research Council.
The measure now faces consideration by the full Legislature when it reconvenes January 3, 2017.
During even-numbered years, the Legislature generally limits bill submissions to those that address emergencies and other pressing situations. The Legislative Council, which is made up of each party’s leaders in the Maine House and Senate, decides which bills fit the criteria.
Talbot Ross is serving her first term in the Maine House. A member of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, she represents part of Portland, including the neighborhoods of Parkside, Bayside, East Bayside, Oakdale and the University of Southern Maine campus.