"Jails are full, all of our local jails are at capacity almost every single day," said Ashley Brown, the case manager for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. "We are hoping to reduce recidivism rates associated costs with those recidivism rates."
The Health Equity Alliance is teaming up with the Bangor Police Department to help those struggling or at risk with substance abuse. They believe LEAD will also reduce jail overcrowding.
"We provide client centered case management services to folks struggling with substance use in the criminal justice program," said Brown.
LEAD is meant to help individuals facing pre-arrest and bookings. It also assists those with a past criminal record get the necessary resources to help them get clean. The program is free and doesn't require insurance.
"Once the police officer makes the diversion to the program, the arrest is off of the table," said Brown.
But officials say, this isn't a get out of jail free card. If an individual is caught again with drugs, they can be arrested and charged. This is meant to get those struggling with drugs the proper help they need.
"We believe in harm reduction and we believe that there's a lot of basic needs such as housing, income, access to food that people need to obtain before recovery or abstinence from drug use will be effective," she said.
"Putting people into jail doesn't work," said Sgt. Jason McAmbley, of the Bangor Police Department. "We can't arrest our way out of this situation."
As of now, there's only one LEAD program in the state.
"I'd like to see people jump on board because they see that it's working and they realize that it's necessary on a bigger picture," said Brown.
Officials believe LEAD will help reduce criminal behavior of people who participate in the program.
"The funding that's going towards being housed in jail or all of those associated cost would be going towards treatment programs," said Brown. "A program like LEAD, where they will be connected to the services that they need."