Maine Governor Paul LePage, along with Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Morris announced last Friday that more funding is needed to fight the drug abuse problem in the State. He blamed a high percentage of crime on drug abuse problems. The Portland Police Department estimated that roughly 20 percent of all of arrests in their city are related in one way or another to drug abuse. Governor LePage also stated that drug abuse was ruining families. For example, he explained that in the last fiscal year 835 babies were born addicted to drugs.
The Governor blames the decreasing amount of federal funds, which is down from $3 million to $1 million, for the rise in drug abuse.
Morris criticized the Legislature for cutting $350,000 of MDEA funding out of LePage's 2014-2015 budget proposal, which the governor had proposed in an effort to fill the gap created by federal revenue streams that have dwindled thanks to sequestration.
There is no word yet on what kind of funding the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency will receive.
Many people are upset about the Governor's statement. Not because drug enforcement is a bad thing, but Gov LePage has long been connected to private for-profit prisons. People who are severely addicted to drugs need therapy and counseling, not to be locked up and given a criminal record. Some people feel that LePage's agenda for drug enforcement is to make more drug arrests in order to populate private prisons.
The best methods for dealing with a drug abuse problem is to work with drug outreach groups and help addicts get treatment and assistance before they commit crimes. Many addicts are good people who end up breaking the law in order to feed their addiction. If these programs had the manpower and the funding that the police do, they would be able to hel pa lot more people.