The city of Bangor is the latest Maine community to launch an innovative jail diversion program targeting those battling opioid addiction.
Modeled after a New Mexico initiative, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program, or LEAD, provides assistance for addicts facing low-level drug offenses as an alternative to incarceration.
Robin Carr, a substance abuse prevention coordinator for Bangor Public Health and Community Services, says the program will be coordinated by Bangor police and the Health Equity Alliance.
“We’ve just been pleased to be able to work with Health Equity Alliance over the course of the last year and the planning and development stages of this program,” she says. “Substance abuse disorder continues to be a significant public health concern in our communities. In our region we have seen an uptick in heroin use and significant related consequences, including overdoses and overdose deaths.”
Jason McAmbley, community relations officer for the Bangor Police Department, will coordinate the program with alliance.
“For the police department, we’ve got the easy part of it, it’s the Health Equity Alliance and the other people who have the heavy lifting to take these people, give them the resources they need to find the money to pay for those resources and try to get these people some help and to get them straightened out and get them off the drugs, because nobody wants to be an addict,” he says.
Supporters of the program, which includes a drug treatment component, say the pilot project will provide an infrastructure of support and case management for people who might otherwise be convicted of low-level drug offenses.