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Knox County approves steps to reduce recidivism

By Stephen Betts | Feb 13, 2020

Rockland — Knox County is moving full steam ahead in an effort to end the revolving door of inmates returning to its jail.

The Knox County Commissioners approved two agreements Feb. 11 that will provide services to inmates while at the jail and after they are released.

"I'm pretty excited about this being the right direction," Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll said. "I think you will see a difference in the future so that these people will contribute in a positive way to our society."

The County Commissioners gave the county administrator and sheriff approval to sign an agreement with Healthy Acadia's Americorps/Maine RecoveryCorps Programs, and Volunteers of America for a part-time recovery coach at the jail.

The number of inmates attending these classes are the most he has seen in his 10 years with the county, the sheriff said. He said 19 people attended the most recent class.

The jail has a capacity of holding 70 people. The population was as low as 40 last fall but is now at capacity because many judges agree to stay of executions of jail sentences until after the holidays.

The Commissioners also gave the administrator and sheriff authority to sign an agreement between Starbuck Associates, and the Penobscot Bay YMCA for discharge planning.

State Rep. Anne "Pinny" Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, is providing that service. Beebe-Center announced last month she would not seek re-election but instead would work in the role with the jail and community.

Sheriff Carroll said the four goals of discharge planning are to help people completing their jail sentences find employment, housing, transportation, and health care. Beebe-Center will work with community resources to help meet the needs of the people being released from jail.

"This will help people succeed when they go out the door," Carroll said. "They've paid their dues, let's help them succeed."

He said health care is particularly important for people who need to continue counseling or medication treatment for addictions.

The jail is paying $2,000 for the recovery coach and $24,000 as a match to a grant for the discharge planning. That money was already included in the county's 2020 budget.

"The goal is for them to get jobs, pay taxes, and raise their families," he said.

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Comments (7)
Posted by: Ronald Pendleton | Feb 14, 2020 06:59

Employment and rehabilitation from drugs/alcohol is they key, people who have succeeded and not gone back to jail are the ones who have a lot to offer them.

Posted by: Debra Damon | Feb 14, 2020 06:26

Very well said Pam. The ones that make the negative comments are the ones that don't see the good in people. Addiction and Alcoholism is a disease that has entered our country and our state. These people need help in changing and they deserve that. More Re-entry programs are needed in our state.

Mary it seems you always have a negative opinion on things but many families have suffered in our area because of Addiction and Alcoholism and time to make a change! Some families that have had devastation hit their family have been from all walks of life Rich, Medium and Poor income families. Be glad our Sherriff Tim Carroll and other community members want to make a change in our Community! People make mistakes now they want help and we are trying to help them. I praise those that are helping. Thank You for getting it started.

Posted by: Pam Leach | Feb 13, 2020 22:33

Drug addicts/alcoholics aren’t bad people... they’re sick people.  And I know this is a hard concept for many of us to understand.  On the either hand, if you sober up a drunken bank robber...he’s still a bank robber.  It’s been my experience through my education and volunteer work with programs like the Restorative Justice program in Belfast, and the re-entry center at the Waldo County Jail.  I’ve learned that addicts can and do recover. But without change, there is no change and these changes come with the price tag of supporting them and showing that there is another way to live.

I’ve personally known of dozens, if not hundreds, of men and women (as well as teens) who have found that other way to live but usually not without a lot of work and a commitment to change just one thing.. and that’s everything.  They learn that there are people who care about them and are willing to make a united commitment to guide and help them be successful in their recovery.

Do they all recover?  No.  And some have a rougher road to travel and after numerous relapses they often find a path that paves the way to permanent recovery.  But they can’t do this alone and I’m happy to see that Knox County is taking these positive steps.

I have seen miracles come out of the re-entry program in Belfast and Restorative Justice program because there are people who invest enormous amounts of volunteer time ensuring that when an inmate is released he/she has a place to go, perhaps family reunification, a job, food to eat, clothes to wear, and medical care they need in order to be successful.

These are just the basics and I couldn’t imagine being let out the door after a period of incarceration without these things.  You might as well say to them, “I’ll see you later “... because you will.

Pam Leach

Posted by: Dorinda Jacobs | Feb 13, 2020 16:51

Maybe get some judges that believe in justice, not just a slap on a hand and turn them out.  Getting the sentences they deserve might curtail them not caring if they go back.  Why not turn jails back into a place to serve time, and not a romper room for spoiled brats.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 13, 2020 12:15

Good luck with the addicted problem. It will never go away.

Posted by: Debra Damon | Feb 13, 2020 05:44

This is great news! It's time for a change and for this Community to help those with addiction problems. Thank you Tim Carroll for making this happen. This community has needed this change for a long time. I do hope businesses, transportation, Health officials and the sober houses work with this program. Drugs have hit many our familes personally and devastated some of us. I am so happy to see things changing to make our Community better. Thank you again Tim Carroll, Knox County Commissioners and Ann Bee Center to help get this all started! I would love to be a part of this if is need for help. Please reach out.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 13, 2020 04:42

WOW!!  What awesome news. There are not many of us; or a member of our family; who hasn't made a serious mistake that could have resulted in incarceration.  Knox County has taken another step forward that we can all be proud of.

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