Doug Dunbar spent astir 30 years successful elder positions successful American government. He was the Deputy Secretary of State successful Maine. The property caput to the Governor of Maine and a Communications Director successful Congress. He worked for US Senators and authorities agencies.
He’s besides present a felon.
How connected world did Doug extremity up spending 136 days successful jail? And much importantly, what did helium larn firsthand astir the shocking failures of our strategy of transgression justice?
Listen to the afloat speech here:
This speech has been condensed and edited.
Doug Dunbar: The communicative for maine takes disconnected pursuing September 11th, 2001. I was moving successful Congress. That day, we were nether attack, and I could spot fume billowing up from the Pentagon. Since childhood, I had suffered from 2 intelligence illnesses that I told nary 1 about. I experienced obsessive compulsive upset and anxiousness connected a regular basis. As I started to process September 11th, my anxiousness and OCD spiraled retired of control, and I started to self-medicate with alcohol.
As the years went connected from that point, I moved backmost to Maine, went to enactment successful the governor’s office, and my drinking accrued successful presumption of frequence and quantity arsenic my tolerance level increased.
Matt Robison: And past you got arrested for driving nether the influence?
Doug Dunbar: The archetypal clip I thought everyone would find retired due to the fact that I had absorbing presumption and I knew a batch of the reporters successful Maine. I had been Maine’s main lawman caput of authorities for eden sakes: it was portion of my occupation to oversee the centrifugal conveyance division. I utilized to counsel radical astir the risks of getting pulled implicit aggregate times and becoming a habitual offender. But I deluded myself that I could support it nether control.
Matt Robison: You told yourself it would ne'er hap to you. But it sounds similar it did.
Doug Dunbar: Yeah, astatine this constituent I had been self-medicating with intoxicant for 16 years. When I got arrested again, I thought initially that it would beryllium similar the erstwhile six arrests. But of course, it wasn’t. The full acquisition was shocking. Most of america don’t spot ourselves ending up successful that position, and past ending up successful jailhouse for 136 days.
Matt Robison: What did you bash astir your addiction and your intelligence wellness conditions portion you were successful jail?
Doug Dunbar: There are decent radical who enactment successful jails and adjacent immoderate bully programs, but jails arsenic an entity bash lone 1 happening consistently: helping radical to instrumentality to jail. I support way of the radical successful [the jailhouse I was in] and I spot the aforesaid names travel up implicit and implicit again. We don’t absorption connected solving problems. We instrumentality radical to jail.
So I didn’t get immoderate assistance connected substance maltreatment oregon intelligence wellness until aft I near jail. In fact, everyone astir maine erstwhile I arrived successful jailhouse was intelligibly suffering from a profound intelligence illness. Some of them were successful the throes of substance usage disorder. Others had immoderate different benignant of intelligence illness. But they each were successful a situation situation.
And for astir of the staff, alternatively of trying to deescalate immoderate of what was going and effort to calm radical down, I saw employees effort to escalate, tease oregon mock the individuals and truly footwear everything up a notch.
Matt Robison: What did you spot successful presumption of areas wherever we desperately request reform?
Doug Dunbar: A batch of the radical astir maine were determination due to the fact that they couldn’t travel up with precise humble amounts of wealth to get retired and support their beingness together. One of my archetypal cellmates had a bail acceptable astatine $160 and helium could not travel up with it. He was determination for shoplifting an vigor drink. This is simply a antheral who was not mentally well, and helium shoplifted to devour and survive. He lived successful the woods successful Newport, Maine, not acold from Bangor, and helium did not cognize his ain age. He thought helium was 26 oregon 27. It turned retired helium was really 24. So helium sat determination successful jailhouse for astir 90 days and the taxpayers covered him astatine $109 a night. So taxpayers paid $10,000 due to the fact that helium couldn’t wage $160 successful bail.
Matt Robison: And we’re not talking astir convulsive offenders here. We’re talking astir radical who are shoplifting and different offenses that person to bash with a substance usage disorder…not the benignant of happening we should beryllium treating successful jail?
Doug Dunbar: That’s precisely right. So yeah, 1 mode we tin downsize our jails close distant is sensible bail reform.
Overall, erstwhile you acquisition the system, it is shocking. There are 2 antithetic systems of alleged justice. The affluent are capable to station bail and spell location and enactment with a backstage lawyer and get the attraction of that attorney. Then there’s the strategy for the mediocre and the ill, who can’t get retired of jailhouse and person a lawyer to enactment connected their lawsuit appropriately. So their beingness unravels. Did they person an apartment? It’s gone. Did they person a job? Gone. Did they person children? The children might’ve been taken. Did they person Medicaid? Not anymore. Not due to the fact that you’ve been convicted of something, but simply due to the fact that you’re incarcerated.
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Matt Robison is simply a writer and governmental expert who focuses connected trends successful demographics, psychology, policy, and economics that are shaping American politics. He spent a decennary moving connected Capitol Hill arsenic a Legislative Director and Chief of Staff to 3 Members of Congress, and besides worked arsenic a elder advisor, run manager, oregon advisor connected respective Congressional races, with a absorption successful New Hampshire. In 2012, helium ran a come-from-behind contention that nationalist governmental analysts called the biggest astonishment triumph of the election. He went connected to enactment arsenic Policy Director successful the New Hampshire authorities senate, successfully helping to coordinate the legislative effort to walk Medicaid expansion. He has besides done extended backstage assemblage enactment connected vigor regulatory policy. Matt holds a Bachelor’s grade successful economics from Swarthmore College and a Master’s grade successful nationalist argumentation from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He lives with his woman and 3 children successful Amherst, Massachusetts.