State money would fund treatment in York County Jail, combatting addiction and recidivism
AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted on Wednesday to recommend the passage of LD 377, to send much needed resources to York County to combat drug addiction and recidivism.
The bill, “A Resolve to Establish the York County Jail Drug Detoxification and Rehabilitation Pilot Program,” is sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.
The final version of the legislation would provide nearly $1 million annually directly to the York County Jail to offer substance abuse therapy within or attached to the jail. The goal is to provide desperately needed treatment services to inmates with substance use disorders either as residential and/or outpatient community-based services. This pilot project would then report back to the legislature to determine effectiveness and whether to use the program as a statewide model.
“This drug epidemic continues to cause pain and heartache for countless Maine families and is literally costing us lives each and every day,” said Sen. Chenette. “This bill isn’t a magic wand, but aims to get folks cycling through our criminal justice system the help they need to get back on their feet and become healthy and productive citizens.”
The drug crisis reached a new record in 2016, claiming at least one life per day in Maine. Among the 378 recorded deaths during the year, 313 were attributed to opiates.
Drug addiction is especially prevalent in jails and prisons throughout the country. According to a 2010 report by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 85 percent of jail and prison inmates are involved with substance abuse.
Chenette’s bill has earned the endorsement of the Portland Press Herald, as well as York County Sheriff William King, the Maine Sheriffs Association and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in Maine.
LD 377 will be taken up by the full Legislature in the coming weeks.