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"Countless friends have gotten out of that jail and O.D.'d and died" - Bo's story

"I grew up on Old Town area, Penobscot Nation reservation. I represent Penobscot Nation. Grew up in a small-knit community fighting and f&%!ing. That put me in county jail quite a bit for small, petty things here and there throughout my young-adult life.

"Growing up, yeah, I had a lot of hiccups, but at the end of the day, it’s what’s made us who we are for men today. I don’t really have any regrets.

"Well, I do regret going to Penobscot County Jail. That place really turned my life into hell. Looking back at it all, there are a lot of situations and circumstances that probably could’ve been changed a lot differently if I didn’t get the handcuffs slapped on me. Maybe we could have talked out situations a little bit more.

"But grow up on a reservation, you don’t have that opportunity to sit there and talk through a conversation with somebody… That’s just the way it was over there."

Incarcerated community members frequently describe not having access to their prescribed Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders while in jail. Common types of MAT include suboxone, methadone, and naltrexone. Even at jails where some types of MAT are potentially available, such as Penobscot County Jail, denials and long delays are common.

Sudden removal of the medications can cause excruciating withdrawals and severe mental health effects. When released from jail, individuals reenter the community with a loss of drug tolerance, which increases their risk of fatal overdose.

Bo shared, “I really believe if—even if you don't have a prescription [for MAT] on the street, and you're seeking Suboxone help when you get into county [jail], you're already [trying to stay] healthy... So why not give him the medication, put him on it, and get him started. So at least they're not coming out and taking a big shot and dying! I've had countless friends that have gotten out of that jail and O.D.'d and died.”

Bo cited an ex-partner's experience working in the Quebec system in Canada. “Instead of putting you in jail, they try to work with you."

"Bo," digital painting by Teresa LaGrange. Bo was interviewed by Brian Pitman. Edited by Zeraph Dylan Moore.

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