Judiciary committee unanimously advances Jackson measure to improve access to substance use disorder treatment programs 

AUGUSTA – An amended proposal from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, which seeks to improve access to treatment and recovery programs available through the courts, earned unanimous support from the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The measure is part of an ongoing effort to establish a treatment and recovery court in Aroostook County.

“A treatment and recovery court is desperately needed in Aroostook County. The opioid epidemic has devastated families and derailed the lives of our loved ones, sometimes landing them in the criminal justice system,” said President Jackson. “This is about improving access to tools that have proven to help. I’m grateful to the Committee for their commitment to helping folks in all corners of the state get the treatment they need to get back on their feet and fully participate in our communities.” 

President Jackson introduced the original version of the bill last year in an attempt to begin the process of establishing a treatment and recovery court in Aroostook County. Following the public hearing in April, a group of stakeholders began meeting to develop a plan and complete an application for a Maine Specialty Docket to establish a Treatment and Recovery Court in Aroostook County. The group, led by Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins, hopes to finalize the application later this month. 

The Maine Treatment and Recovery Courts are specialty dockets for eligible individuals whose involvement with the criminal justice system has been fueled by a serious substance use disorder (drugs and/or alcohol). These courts are located in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Hancock, Penobscot, Washington and York Counties. The closest treatment and recovery court to Aroostook County is located in Calais – more than 130 miles away from the County’s population center.

Individuals are voluntarily admitted into a treatment and recovery court program upon entering a plea agreement and acknowledging their role in the offending conduct. Major requirements of this program are weekly meetings, drug testing, curfews, and education. The treatment and recovery team that manages the day-to-day operations of the court is multi-disciplinary. 

LD 1596 will face additional votes before the House and Senate. 

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