Four months after it opened, officials with Layman Way Recovery Center, a collaboration between York County government and York County Shelter Programs, Inc. reported on  the innovative program that treats eligible pre-trial inmates in the grip of addiction. JOURNAL TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO

ALFRED — Since the doors to Layman Way Recovery Center opened to provide services to eligible pre-trial inmates in the grip of addiction on May 7, more than 26 people from 13 of York County’s 29 municipalities have taken that first step.

Of those, 10 were unsuccessful and have been discharged from the program, said Jen Ouellette, clinical director of York County Shelter Programs, Inc., which is partnering with York County government to provide the service.

Of the 26, 18 identified heroin or other opioids as their primary reason for admittance to the program, eight identified alcohol.

Ouellette, shelter Executive Director Bob Dawber and York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery updated York County Commissioners on the program last week.

As of Sept. 5, eight men and eight women were enrolled in the residential treatment program, which is designed to provide treatment to pre-trial arrestees in the throes of addiction who are charged with non-violent crimes. Clients, who undergo screening before they are admitted to the program, typically live at the center for four to six months. The center can accommodate 12 men and 12 women.

“What we’re learning is that the majority of people (screened) are not first-time offenders,” said Ouellette.

And. she said, most have experienced a lifetime of trauma. Ouellette spoke of clients who had experienced physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and the absence of parental supervision as parents engaged in their own substance misuse.

The program is funded entirely by the county government — about $800,000, made up of $500,000 funded through the county budget and around $300,000 from surplus — in this current fiscal year.

Two of those enrolled in the program have MaineCare health insurance, the others do not, Ouellette said.

“If the program didn’t exist, they wouldn’t have treatment,” she said.

Besides group sessions, those in treatment undergo a number of one-to-one clinical sessions, Dawber said.

There is  intensive counseling, and an on-site case manager assists residents with developing plans for when they leave, such as what their living situation might be, job prospects, and more.

Commissioner Cynthia Chadwick-Granger said she’s looking forward to seeing statistics on the success of the program.

“I know we’re just beginning but its important for the future,” she said. “The end result is what I’m looking for.”

Dawber said there have been a lot of “thank you’s” from parents and families of those enrolled, as well as community members whom, he pointed, out have no personal stake in the program.

“This is an incredible underserved population,” said York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery.

It is also the only one of its kind in Maine.

There have been some difficulties in the process for interviewing potential clients and having them released from York County Jail but the snags are being worked out, officials said.

Slattery said she’s been hearing positive feedback from defense attorneys — and that’s not all.

“The most positive part is seeing the residents, and they seem so grateful for the opportunity,” Slattery said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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