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Courts and Crime

Maine Drug Crisis Focus of Chief Justice's Annual 'State of the Judiciary' Address

PORTLAND, Maine - The state's drug crisis was the focus of Maine Chief Justice Leigh Saufley's annual State of the Judiciary address. "The wave of drug addictions in Maine is eating at the heart of our beautiful state," Saufley told a joint session of the Maine Legislature.  And she said there is no easy solution.

"What is all too clear to all of us is that, because of the causes and cures for addiction are as varied as they are for any disease, no cookie cutter solution will work."

Saufley said the state could help deal with Maine's drug crisis by eliminating the criminal backlog facing the courts and creating options in Maine for graduated treatment housing.

But Saufley said that when it comes to infrastructure, the Maine Court System has turned a corner. For years, Saufley has focused her "State of the Judiciary" address on the poor condition of Maine's court facilities, and noted that it was less than a decade ago when severe budget cuts forced rolling court closings.

"It was bad," she said. "Closed courts and unsafe courthouses resulted in limited public access."

But Safley told lawmakers this morning that, with support from the Legislature and the governor, courts in Maine are returning to solid ground.

Saufley said pending legislation will provide for dignified, efficient and accessible court facilities in a number of counties.