Chenette bill to fight drug addiction gets initial nod from the Senate

Posted: May 24, 2017 | Senator Chenette

AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Wednesday endorsed LD 377, a bill to send much needed resources to York County to combat drug addiction and recidivism.

The bill, “A Resolve to Establish the York County Jail Drug Detoxification and Rehabilitation Pilot Program,” is sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.

The final version of the legislation would provide nearly $1 million annually to the York County Jail to offer substance abuse therapy to inmates. The goal is to provide necessary treatment services to inmates with substance use disorders, either as residential and/or outpatient community-based services. This pilot project would then report back to the legislature to determine effectiveness and whether to use the program as a statewide model.

“Maine overdose deaths reached record levels just last year — 378 to be exact. That’s more than one death every single day. This bill empowers York County to address this problem,” said Sen. Chenette. “We can’t afford another day, another death, without action. I am glad that my colleagues agreed and voted in favor of this legislation.”

Drug addiction is especially prevalent in jails and prisons throughout the country. According to a 2010 report by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 85 percent of jail and prison inmates are involved with substance abuse.

Chenette’s bill earned the endorsement of the Portland Press Herald earlier this year, as well as York County Sheriff William King, the Maine Sheriffs Association and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in Maine.

The bill now heads to the House for an initial vote.