Read Jenna's letter to the editor as it first appeared in the Portland Press Herald here.
Maine’s legal system puts too many people living with a mental illness in jail for nuisance crimes. The majority of sheriffs in Maine are strong advocates for more mental health services, and do not want individuals living with a mental illness in jail for misdemeanor crimes.
These arrests are often not cases where an officer could just give a summons to a person in an elevated state and leave them. Officers want other options to help; they want to be able to transport a person to support services.
Reforming the bail process could prove helpful, but we must demonstrate our shared belief that treatment changes lives by building a system that supports people with mental illness to have hope. This starts with investing in crisis mental health response services and diversion centers as options to incarceration.