Stevens Memorial Hospital is a "critical access hospital" - a small facility serving the rural community of Norway, Maine. I had the opportunity tour the hospital on Tuesday as part of an effort to better understand the rural health care network in Maine, where, as with so many other services, our dispersed population makes it difficult to cover every town. I was impressed by the level of care being provided there, and enjoyed many of the staff members. One of the more memorable parts of the tour included this bulletin board in the X-ray department.
In early December I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Cumberland County Court House, where I had a chance to view various aspects of the judicial system as it operates in Maine. The volume of the people moving through the system, the thinness of the staffing, the critical aspect of the indigent legal aid system, and the frequent complexity and nuance of almost every case are challenges. I was greatly impressed by the care and "customization" provided by the various judges and court staff as they sort through this massive workload. My impression was that the judges went out of their way to provide respectful, fair, and humane treatment of those who came before them.
My question is how can we slow down the volume of cases in this strained system? Our criminal code is way overdue for an overhaul - and aspects like mandatory minimum sentences are among the issues that are causing the most trouble. The other thing that was abundantly clear was the need to find a way to assure support for indigent legal services, which are in constant demand and chronically underfunded.
I also had a chance to briefly view the Maine Supreme Court, which happened to be in session that day, which led to the photo taken above. Thanks to Chief Justice Sauffley for taking the time to answer my questions, and for suggesting that we take a picture!
Erik C. Jorgensen represents Maine House District 41 - Part of Portland. This blog represents his own opinions and not those of the Maine Legislature, Maine Democrats, or anyone else. To read more about me, click here