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MAINE ADULT DRUG TREATMENT COURTS

Maine’s Adult Drug Treatment Courts have been active in six counties across Maine after the addition of the Court in Hancock County on July 1, 2008, and provide rigorous accountability for offenders who have either pled or been found guilty of serious drug and alcohol-related offenses. Drug courts have become a national and international response to the interrelationship of substance abuse and crime and the profound costs to individuals, the criminal justice system, and our communities at large. This is a time proven approach, substantiated by research, to the profound challenges posed by substance abuse in the criminal justice system.

  • In the past seven years, 863 men and women have participated in these Courts. Of these clients, 254 have been active during this past year; 115 have graduated while 55 have been expelled for noncompliance. If these individuals had not been in the Adult Drug Treatment Courts, they would have been incarcerated for significant periods of time in jails and prisons. While in prison, they would not have been working, paying taxes, or supporting their families. As prisoners, the citizens of Maine would have shouldered the heavy burden of paying for their incarceration.

  • Maine’s graduation rate exceeds the national average. Given the rigorous demands of these Courts and the severity of the substance abuse disorders and criminal conduct of clients, not everyone will succeed. Those clients who were unable to successfully complete the requirements of the Court were expelled and required to serve often significant sentences in correctional institutions.

  • During the past year, these drug court clients have been required to meet with the presiding judge weekly or every other week to account for their progress as well as maintain regular contact with their case managers. They have had to work, attend school, or engage in community service, pay restitution and child support, maintain stable and sober housing, be very frequently tested for drug and alcohol use, and participate satisfactorily in intensive treatment and self-help groups.

  • Specialized treatment is provided to drug court clients to support recovery from substance abuse, develop more pro-social thoughts and behaviors, and address mental health and trauma issues.

  • Drug court team members and the criminal justice, treatment, and governmental agencies they represent have collaborated intensively to make their Courts successful.

  • Community outreach efforts have continued, including presentations to interested parties in Maine and New England.

  • Research in Maine continues to demonstrate that drug court clients are rearrested at significantly lower rates and for less serious offenses than traditionally adjudicated offenders.

  • Drug courts are a good value for Maine. There are substantial savings to the criminal justice and corrections systems because clients are in their communities working or going to school and participating in treatment and other recovery activities rather than filling scarce jail and prison beds. Public safety is enhanced and fewer of Maine’s citizens are victimized.

  • Drug courts remain labor intensive on the part of judges and other drug court practitioners, which is of concern given the scarcity of judicial resources. Largely for this reason, drug courts cannot be expanded to every community in the state.

  • Funding for treatment provided to drug court clients has remained flat or been reduced. No funding has ever been provided to the Judicial Branch for the judges, clerks, and court security necessary to operate drug courts.

  • Dwindling resources due to the economic downturn and resultant state budget deficits threaten the viability of the Adult Drug Treatment Courts even as crimes continue to be committed and substance abuse remains a profound problem in Maine.