Maine's GOP AG and gov again imprison a social problem rather than solving it

Last month, I wrote about the demonization and criminalization of the needy, noting that rather than actually fix social problems, conservative politicians make them worse and then blame the victims for having the problems in the first place. My piece was called "Barely Hanging On: Fraud Isn't Killing Maine's Welfare System - Conservative Misunderstanding Is."

As an example case, I wrote about the difficult case of Kathleen Schidzig, who is in prison for a year - at a taxpayer cost of $45,000 - after pleading "no contest" to charges she stole $18,000 in welfare benefits.

Into the email box today comes another example. Here's the press release from the Attorney General, explaining how taxpayers are now going to pay $180,000 to imprison a needy woman who should not have gotten roughly $60,000 in benefits.

I ask again: Is this the best use of taxpayer money? And is there anything we could do differently that would actually help these people, rather than turn them into unemployed people with criminal records?


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Brunswick Woman Sentenced For Stealing Food Stamps and Child Care Reimbursement Benefits

AUGUSTA – Attorney General William J. Schneider announced that Sarah E. Fairbanks, 40, of Brunswick, was sentenced today in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Fairbanks was convicted by a jury on November 30, 2012 of one count of Class B theft and two counts of unsworn falsification for providing false information to the Department of Health and Human Services in order to obtain welfare benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps) and Child Care Development Fund Voucher Program (CCDF).

Fairbanks was sentenced to five years imprisonment with all but thirteen months suspended, three years of probation and restitution in the amount of $59,816.38.

“The successful result in this case is due to the focused and effective partnership between DHHS and our prosecutors. We are committed to working together to ensure accountability for the proper use of our limited resources,” said Attorney General Schneider.

This case was investigated by the Maine DHHS Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit. Assistant Attorney General Peter Black handled this matter for Attorney General Schneider’s Criminal Division.

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