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Posted on: October 28, 2020

Cumberland County Earns Significant Grant to Support Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

Cumberland County Earns Significant Grant to Support Treatment for Substance Use Disorder 

Department of Justice Awards Nearly $900K for Collaborative Program based at County Jail



PORTLAND -- Cumberland County has earned a significant grant from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to improve collaborative treatment for people struggling with Substance Use Disorder. 

The grant-funded program, which the County is calling “Bridges for ME: Person-Centered Recovery and Reentry,” will provide individuals in the Cumberland County Jail who are assessed with opioid, stimulant and substance use disorders with evidence-based treatments while in Jail and through community reentry. 

The DOJ alerted Cumberland County officials on October 16th that the Department is awarding almost $900,000 to support programming through the County Jail, based on a proposal that the County and several regional partners made earlier in the year to grow and improve community-based treatment for people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) who have been incarcerated.

The $899,824 grant from the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance will fund three years of programming through the Jail. Most of the funds will be distributed to partner agencies working with the jail on collaborative efforts to support patients as they are treated in the jail, and then transferred seamlessly into the recovery community upon their release.

Amidst a global pandemic, overdoses from opioid misuse have surged in 2020. The Maine Attorney General’s Office reported that overdose deaths grew by 27 percent in the first half of 2020, with 258 Maine people losing their lives from January to June.

Maine Pretrial Services, a private non-profit agency that provides pre-arraignment screening, re-entry and community supervision and case management for people who are arrested in most Maine counties, estimates that roughly 70% of the jail population in 2019 had a Substance Use Disorder. 

“Managing treatment for SUD is phenomenally complicated at a county jail,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce. “But it’s also an opportunity to develop a treatment plan and build relationships for patients with the recovery community in a controlled setting, so the transition out is seamless. If we do this right, we can give people the tools to stay on the path to recovery when they’re released.”

The award is the latest success in the Cumberland County Jail’s run of grant proposals to address SUD through innovative partnerships with area support agencies. 

In 2016 the County earned a significant grant through the DOJ for the County’s “Second Chance” re-entry program, which provides reentry and support services for individuals with both a Substance Use Disorder and a co-occuring mental health disorder. That program is set to expire in 2021. 

In 2019, the County won a technical assistance grant from the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, a national non-profit that specializes in criminal justice and homeland security issues, to build a consistent team of partners and align interests and goals in supporting SUD treatment for incarcerated people. That small grant led to a larger one early this year from the same organization, which established the “Building Bridges” program. The new funds provide recovery housing, transportation and peer support for individuals leaving the jail. Those funds are also scheduled to end in 2021.

With all of that groundwork established, Cumberland County was in a strong position to apply for the competitive funding at the Bureau of Justice Assistance for the new program. The new funds will both extend and expand programming through the jail and its partners into 2023. The Bridges for ME grant will expand the services available through the Second Chance grant to anyone with an SUD, and incorporate new community partners - including peer navigators and data aggregation services - to improve on services honed over the past three years. 

Partners working with the Jail on the Bridges for ME program include Maine Pretrial Services, Co-occurring Collaborative Serving Maine, SMART, Maine Department of Corrections Probation, MAT providers Catholic Charities Maine, Spurwink Adult Behavioral Health Services, Maine Behavioral Health IMAT, Northern Light Portland Internal Medicine, and Discovery House.  


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