Legislature sends bill to improve access treatment programs to the Governor’s desk

The measure is part of an ongoing effort to establish a treatment and recovery court in Aroostook County

AUGUSTA – On Thursday, Feb. 28, the Maine Senate sent an amended proposal from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, that would improve access to treatment and recovery programs available through the courts, to the Governor’s desk. The measure is part of an ongoing effort to establish a treatment and recovery court in Aroostook County. The vote was unanimous in both chambers.

“Making sure that Mainers struggling with substance use disorder can access treatment and recovery programs is vital to combatting the opioid epidemic and restoring lives. With the passage of this bill, Aroostook County is the closest it has ever been to establishing a treatment and recovery court. This would be transformational to families and communities across the region,” said President Jackson. “I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone involved in getting this bill across the finish line. Thank you to the recovery advocates who first approached me with this legislation, to District Attorney Todd Collins for your hard work and dedication, and to Sen. Anne Carney and the Judiciary Committee for their strong bipartisan support.”

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, planned to file the application last 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.

The Governor has ten days to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature.

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