Efforts to reform Maine’s cash bail system – in addition to the introduction of Sen. Eric Brakey’s L.D. 1113, An Act to Replace the Bail Code with a System of Validated Risk Assessment Tools – call attention to the issues related to pretrial incarceration rates and overcrowded jails and prisons. These factors mostly affect indigent clients and those of low to medium risk levels.

Evidence-based risk assessments can be useful tools to determine safety and the likelihood of a detainee to re-offend.

Our current bail system would improve if ongoing risk assessments and supervision were partnered with additional interventions such as enhanced social work services and pro-social supports such as mentoring.

Interventions such as these could provide opportunities to address underlying concerns such as substance abuse and mental health issues that may have originally brought the person into the criminal justice system.

Having pretrial detainees sitting in jail at a cost of over $100 a day in taxpayers’ money is not cost-effective. In addition, the added costs incurred when in jail include loss of jobs, income, treatment, child care, etc., and can add to costs associated with the detainment. Extended stays in jail can have long-lasting effects on the well-being of detainees, their families and the community at large.

As a community, we must explore and implement these cutting-edge strategies that reduce incarceration and recidivism while promoting public safety and common sense.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has begun taking sound steps with the development of a task force to study the issues discussed here.

I look forward to reading the recommendations of this task force and support the continued interprofessional efforts to implement strategies for change.

Kelly Dell’Aquila

director of services, My Sister’s Keeper

Cape Elizabeth