Cumberland County has received a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to improve treatment of substance use disorders among people incarcerated at the Cumberland County Jail.

The grant will be used to fund Bridges for ME, a person-centered recovery and re-entry program that will provide evidence-based treatments for inmates who have opioid, stimulant or substance use disorders.

“If we do this right, we can give people the tools to stay on the path to recovery when they’re released,” Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, opioid overdose deaths in Maine increased 27 percent in the first half of 2020, taking 258 lives January through June, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Roughly 70 percent of the state’s jail population in 2019 had a substance use disorder, according to Maine Pretrial Services, a nonprofit agency that works in the jail system.

Most of the three-year grant will be distributed among various health care and social service agencies that have partnered with the jail to treat and support inmates while they’re incarcerated and after they are released.

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