- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is pushing to make possession of heroin and similar drugs a felony, but treatment advocates and defense attorneys say harsh penalties for drug crimes don’t work.

Mills drafted a bill that would once again make jail sentences possible for people who possess heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, more than 30 milligrams of oxycodone, and more than 7 grams of cocaine.

In testimony Wednesday to the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee, Mills said a law passed last year that makes heroin possession a misdemeanor has created a “catch and release” pattern. She said prosecutors need the threat of prison to get drug addicts to turn their lives around.

Opponents said addicts need treatment and that prosecutors should instead focus on locking up drug dealers and traffickers.

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