Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, July 12

Jul 12, 2018

New paradigm for treatment of addicts

At the present time, Knox County is undergoing a major transformation in how people with drug addiction are being treated by the criminal justice system.

Knox County law enforcement and corrections officials are following with great interest the success of the Lincoln County Recovery Collaborative in our neighboring county. In the LCRC, people with drug addiction are now being given a huge helping hand by officers who, in the past, were viewed with fear by people with addiction. Instead of trying to “arrest our way out of this problem”, LCRC criminal justice partners are providing meaningful support and enthusiastic encouragement.

With approximately $150,000 in funding provided by the Lincoln County Commission, two LCRC “recovery coaches” facilitate “peer support group” meetings for people with drug and alcohol addiction. Local police officers, including the chief of police, are present at these support group meetings, along with probation officers and Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett, who helped to create LCRC. Participants are invited to ask officers to leave the meetings if they feel uncomfortable, but it seems the participants have developed such tremendous trust in the officers that they want them to be at the meetings.

At this time, there are about 80 individuals attending these peer support group meetings in Lincoln County, whereas there are only 20 Lincoln County residents incarcerated at their county jail (Two Bridges Regional Jail). These numbers confirm how LCRC has transformed treatment of people with addiction in Lincoln County, and Knox County is paying attention. Lincoln County has stopped trying to "arrest their way out of this problem.”

District Attorney Jonathan Liberman, who oversees prosecution in Maine courts from Waldo to Sagadahoc counties (including Knox County), is taking the lead in forming a similar collaborative to LCRC in Knox County among local criminal justice officials. It is clear that all police departments in Knox County, as well as probation officers, wish to pursue a more enlightened approach along the LCRC lines.

Personally, I have joined with all interested parties to begin mirroring LCRC approaches. On July 18, at 8 a.m. at St. Peters Episcopal Church in Rockland, I will facilitate the first “LCRC-like” peer recovery support meeting with police and corrections officers present with the consent of the participants. These meetings will be held weekly, and participation is expected to grow to the point that more meeting times and locations are likely to be offered.

This is an exciting time to be involved in the transformation of how people with addiction are treated in Knox County. Please stay tuned!

Dr. Ira Mandel, MPH

Executive Director

Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition

Rockland

Fortman qualified for Senate

What personal qualities do you like to see in a Maine state senator? For me, I would like to see a senator who can solve problems, who can work across the aisle, who has a broad, knowledgeable background, and who has a record of accomplishment. Laura Fortman, who is running for Maine State Senate in District 13, has all of the above qualities. Laura has the ability to fight for access to quality health care, support local business that provides good jobs for Maine families, ensure our young people have the education and skills to obtain good-paying jobs, and to protect our natural resources. I have had the privilege to talk with Laura about issues that concern us all. Laura is also a clean election candidate, only accepting $5 contributions. As a middle class retiree, I fully support Laura Fortman for Maine Senate District 13.

For more information about Laura, go to her website: fortman.mainecandidate.com.

Marty Fox

Wiscasset

Let's work together to solve problems

Thanks to Dale E. Landrith Sr. for responding to my letter regarding the Another View columns, it is gratifying and quite unusual to read any sort of reply. It is reassuring to learn that the concerned citizens don’t have any agenda.

I do agree that the incidents cited by Mr. Landrith as attacks against conservatives are vicious and unfair and we mustn’t accept such behavior in any civilized society. We should note that most of those attacks listed seemed to be directed specifically at our current president, who is certainly a controversial figure, at best, and tends to behave in ways that inspire frustration, resistance and anger. I doubt the incidents named were directed at conservatives generally. I think we can both agree that these attacks are wrong and we must all condemn such behavior, wherever it originates.

In any case, this rebuttal reinforces my point: we must find common ground and work together to solve our problems. Simply hurling epithets back and forth to prove who is most wrong isn’t constructive, kind or fair, in fact it’s dangerous. Building ever larger walls between ourselves isn’t likely to improve anything, haven’t we learned that, Mr. Landrith?

Surely we can agree that our children and grandchildren should be safe in school, for instance. Is this important enough to engage our mutual efforts in order to find a solution? I think so. Working together towards a common goal requires us to discard the toxic political banter and open our thinking to new and different ideas from all sides.

It requires courage and a willingness to compromise in order to ensure progress. It requires us to listen to each other and be willing to be “wrong” if a better idea makes sense. I know we all wish our politicians would behave in this way. If we can return to the basic civilized goal to improve our world and leave the partisan bickering behind us, we can begin to make progress towards a better future for all us. We can all be winners.

John Shepard

Union

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