BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – On Wednesday, speakers at the Health Equity Alliance launched the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program (LEAD), an “innovative approach to Opioid Use Disorder and the criminal justice system.”
There are currently five operational LEAD programs across the country which are all funded through a grant from the Open Society Foundation.
The program aims to support people who might be convicted of low-level drug offenses. Bangor police officers said booking, prosecuting and jailing individuals who commit nonviolent crimes has been ineffective in improving public safety or reducing recidivism.
According to criminal justice coordinator, Gretchen Ziemer, “this program is designed to meet people where they are, treat each other with respect, and have folks that are in the program identify for themselves what they want and what their needs are instead of telling them that.”
Jason McAmbley, the community relations officer for the Bangor Police department, will work with the program’s case manager to determine if the LEAD program will be suitable for each prospective client.
Due to limited funding and personnel, there will only be nearly 35 spots available. There is not a graduation from the program which provides services such as safe housing and/or drug treatment. Instead, clients self-identify when they are able to leave the program.
The program is expected to kick-off sometime in April, upon hiring the sole case manager.