Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Closing Long Creek a 1st step
I am happy to hear of and fully support the proposal to close the only youth jail in the state. For the most part, I consider the American carceral system as antithetical to justice, and the American youth carceral system even more so. At least half of American prisoners have mental health issues of some kind; punishing them, instead of helping them rehabilitate, is a waste of time and resources and helps no one. Of course, there are crimes that should not be forgiven.
People with a mental illness, especially in the poorer parts of Maine, are underserved in our community. Children with a mental illness are even more underserved; often, these kids are punished and pushed away instead of being listened to. Actions have justification behind them; it’s crucial to listen to the children — even if they are misbehaving. Mental illness is a powerful force. Our children are not “evil,” they are misguided or ill.
I fully believe that if we, as a community, take the time to listen to our children and help them through the tough times — the times that influence so many to turn to crime or drugs — we can make a positive impact on the rest of their lives.
Closing the youth’s jail is the first step to a brighter future. Hopefully, this will encourage more positive justice.
Ali Mann’s sense of community
Wow, how refreshing to read Ali Mann write “But I am not an island, and my wellbeing is fundamentally tied to those around me” in her June 14 BDN column. Mann was writing in support of LD 1524 that would reduce the amount individuals could inherit tax-free from the current $5.8 million to $2 million.
Mann noted that her thinking on this issue was prompted by the fact that she inherited a “small fortune” eight years ago. Clearly, she inherited a lot more. She inherited a sense of community and spirit of generosity that more of us would do well to emulate.
2 years is too long to wait
For 12 long years, families impacted by Huntington’s disease have been advocating for members of Congress to pass the Huntington’s Disease Parity Act (H.R. 2050/S. 868). This bill if passed would waive the two-year waiting period to go on Medicare and also the remaining five-month benefit waiting period for people who have qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance due to Huntington’s Disease, meaning individuals with Huntington’s will be able to immediately access all benefits of the program as soon as they are deemed eligible.
Here in Maine, our U.S. senators and representatives have been champions of the Huntington’s Disease Parity Act. In this session, Sen. Angus King was the first to co-sponsor, followed by Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree. Huntington Disease families are grateful for their early support. I am hopeful that Rep. Jared Golden will co-sponsor soon, because he was the first in the last session.
Huntington’s disease is a fatal, hereditary, neurodegenerative brain disorder that takes away a person’s ability to walk, talk, think rationally and eat over a period of roughly 25 years. Two years is too long for these families to wait for Medicare once they are in the throes of the disease. ALS and End Stage Renal Failure already have the waiver.
We know Congress can act on disease specific problems with disease specific solutions. Our community is small — only 41,000 Americans are currently symptomatic with HD, while 200,000 remain at-risk, but it consistently falls through the cracks of our social safety nets. We are fortunate to have King, Collins, Pingree and most likely Golden to be our champions once again.
Maine affiliate chair
Huntington’s Disease Society of America