BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After being removed five years ago, Penobscot county drug court is back up and running in Bangor.
It is not clear as to why the program was taken away back in 2011, but officials felt that it needed to be brought back to deal with Maine's growing drug epidemic. A public meeting was held Wednesday afternoon at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor to explain more about what services would be offered to those within the program.
"Most of the people that come into these courts desperately want to be free of the addiction" District Court Judge Evert Fowle said. "We have the tools built into our programming that can really be of assistance to them".
Officials say this is not an easy way out of a prison sentence -- its an alternative that allows addicts to get the help they need. Individuals are provided multiple options of treatment and resources in addition to jail time. Officials feel it is more beneficial than the offender serving their sentence behind bars alone. The goal is to keep them out of the system for good
"This is a long term treatment program, this isn't a 30 day or a 60 day or a 90 day program it can last up to 18 months or two years" specialty courts coordinator Michael Madigan said. "Its intense, it requires a lot of work, its almost like a full time job for the first four months of drug court".
It is also not a burden to tax-payers. In fact, it could potentially save them money down the road. "Drug courts can save the state on an individual basis, per client, anywhere between five and eight thousand dollars". Madigan said.
Right now there are only 30 spots in Penobscot county drug court open for qualifying drug offenders. Up to seven of those spots may already be filled by individuals that were in Hancock county's drug court but actually live in Penobscot county. There are specific qualifications that need to be met in order for the drug offender to be eligible. Such as being a non-violent offender and a repeat offender.
"I'm glad that they're back in Bangor and I'm looking forward to see whether our team can make a difference in the lives of people that need help" Judge Fowle said. "I think that drug courts save lives and restore communities if done right and we aim to do it right here".
Penobscot county is one of five other Maine counties to utilize drug court.