Maine’s Rise in Crime Tied to State’s Drug Problem

The state of Maine released crime statistics for 2006, and they aren’t positive. In fact, they show the fastest increase in crime since 1993.

The overall number of serious crimes in Maine increased 4.6% in 2006 over 2005. According to the stats, which are based on reports from the state’s individual police agencies, the number of robberies increased 18.6%, burglaries increased 7.9% and theft increased 4.2%. Robbery alone, defined as a “violent crime with a monetary motive,” showed a double-digit increase for the second year in a row.

So, why such an increase in a state known for its low crime rates? According to Public Safety Commissioner Anne Jordan, the increase is tied to Maine’s growing drug problem.

“We’re seeing more and more people committing robberies for the sole purpose of gaining money to get drugs for their addiction,” Jordan said in reference to the state released crime statistics for 2006. “The impact is reaching beyond hard-core addicts. It’s hitting individual communities, where people thought they were safe and their homes are being broken into and items stolen for the sake of supporting a drug habit.” (Read more in the Portland Press Herald’s article, “Rising crime tied to growing drug problem”)

And if you think men are the only culprits in this rise in crime, you’d probably be wrong. Crossroads for Women, the only substance abuse treatment agency in Maine treating women along a continuum of care, has seen a rise in drug addiction among its clients. Read “Coffee flavored brandy and other drugs Mainers love.”

Many say that regional task forces using officers from local police agencies are the best way to fight the drug problem. While this certainly helps, so does treating those offenders that are addicted to the drugs. Unfortunately, these two approaches seem to be losing funds each year in Maine.

Here’s an interesting statistic to consider from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA): Nationally, in state government alone, 13% of budget expenditures go to dealing with the consequences of untreated addiction; yet only about one-half of one percent of state spending is on treatment.

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