The Boston Globe published my letter about the homelessness crisis in today’s newspaper:
We should be addressing root causes, not looking to correctional settings
I am a physician with a background in public health, and I agree with Dr. Jody Rich, director of the Center for Health and Justice Transformation, that jail-based addiction programs are not a solution to the crisis at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard (“A look inside sheriff’s plan for Mass. and Cass,” Shirley Leung, Page A1, Oct. 24). For example, one recent study reported that fentanyl-related overdoses are likely to be occurring at increasing frequency within correctional facilities.
Instead, how about a social movement to address the root causes of the opioid and homelessness crisis? Band-Aids are not the answer when our brothers and sisters are bleeding out. Instead of “dignified incarceration,” we need dignified housing, effective treatment, job training, education, and community support.
Finally, we must address the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness, addiction, and homelessness. As a practicing doctor who has bipolar disorder and takes lithium, I have empathy for my neighbors at Mass. and Cass who are struggling and marginalized. I hope the people of this city will come together and build what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called a “beloved community” of health and healing.