Maine's Adult Drug Treatment Courts

See Also: Drug Treatment Courts, Family Treatment Drug Courts, Co-Occurring Disorders and Veterans Court, Drug Treatment Court FAQs

What is the Adult Drug Treatment Court (ADTC)?

Implemented in 2001, the ADTCs are specialty dockets given the responsibility to manage cases involving high risk/high need individuals with serious substance abuse and co-occurring disorders involved with the criminal justice system through rigorous judicial monitoring, community supervision, drug testing, specialized and comprehensive treatment services, and immediate sanctions and incentives. In exchange for a guilty plea an individual may enter the ADTC and following graduation expect a greatly reduced sentence.  However, if unsuccessful in the Court, the previously agreed upon sentence associated with this outcome will be imposed.

Adult Drug Treatment Courts have been in existence since 1989 and have expanded across the United States and abroad.  Every state and territory has a drug court.  Rigorous research has demonstrated that, when operating with adherence to best practices for the drug court model, there are significant reductions in recidivism, improved treatment retention leading to strengthened recovery, improved public safety, and associated cost savings.  Evaluations of the Adult Drug Treatment Courts in Maine have replicated these results.

Where are the Adult Drug Treatment Courts located?

Machias & Calais District Courts
Androscoggin County Superior Court - Auburn
York County Superior Court - Alfred
Hancock County Superior Court - Ellsworth
Portland District Court

All Courts will accept cases from the District and Superior Courts and the Unified Criminal Dockets. 

Why does Maine need Adult Drug Treatment Court?

  • Substance abuse disorders are overrepresented in the criminal justice population.  According to a report published in 2010 by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 85% of jail and prison inmates are substance involved.Alcohol and other drugs were involved in 78% of violent crimes, 83% of property crimes, and 77% of public order, immigration or weapons offenses and probation/parole violations.
  • Substance abuse disorders are one of the primary contributors to criminal conduct.
  • Substance abuse disorders can be successfully treated.
  • Additionally, a relatively high percentage of offenders with substance abuse disorders also have co-occurring disorders, which complicates treatment and recovery.

What is the mission of the Adult Drug Treatment Court?

The mission of the Adult Drug Treatment Court is to hold defendants and probationers accountable, to stop criminal activity related to the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and to increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation of offenders through early, continuous, and intensive judicially supervised substance abuse treatment and other appropriate rehabilitation services. This docket allows participants to become more integrated in the community as productive and responsible members of society.

What are the goals of the Adult Drug Treatment Court?

  • Reduce alcohol and drug abuse dependency as well as any co-occurring symptoms among participants.
  • Enhance community safety by reducing recidivism.
  • Increase personal, familial and societal accountability of participants.
  • Develop in participants the necessary personal, familial, and societal assets and skills to become productive citizens through employment, positive community activities, and healthy and safe family relationships.

Who is eligible to apply for admission to the Adult Drug Treatment Court?

These Courts accept adults 18 years of age and older with serious nonviolent criminal charges or probation violations who have a diagnosed moderate to severe substance abuse disorder and are at significant risk of future criminal conduct.  They must live in the county in which there is an Adult Drug Treatment Court.  If their charges are in another county, the District Attorney from that county must agree to transfer the case to the county with the Adult Drug Treatment Court.  Participation in the Adult Drug Treatment Court is voluntary.

Application for admission may be made at any stage of the criminal proceedings including, but not limited to, arraignment, bail hearing, dispositional conference, probation revocation hearing, adjudicatory hearing, after plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or admission to probation violation.  However, application cannot be made after a trial and a finding of guilty.

Any eligible defendant who is not represented shall meet with a Court-appointed attorney before full admittance to the program. 

The defendant must voluntarily and knowingly consent to waive all rights of confidentiality established by federal and state laws associated with substance abuse diagnosis and treatment (42 CFR Part 2) and mental health diagnosis and treatment in order to facilitate judicial supervision and the sharing of information between treatment providers, the ADTC team, and the Court.

The defendant must voluntarily and knowingly consent to waive certain procedural rights to participate in the ADTC as delineated in the bail contract (see link).

The defendant must agree to pay restitution, child support and treatment co-payments.

What steps are required to be admitted to the Adult Drug Treatment Court?

  • Anyone can make a referral to the Adult Drug Treatment Court and should obtain a referral form.  The form can be obtained from a clerk at the courthouse where the Court is located.
  • Complete and return the referral form to the Court case manager.  See the contact information below. The case manager will provide the necessary information to the Court team.
  • The District Attorney's office will provide the team with information on the applicant's criminal history, the Court case manager will complete a screening, and a referral may be made by the case manager to a treatment provider for a clinical assessment.  This assessment is paid for by the State of Maine, MaineCare, other insurance, or out of pocket depending on financial ability.
  • The Court team will review the application information and make a decision regarding admission.
  • If the team agrees to admit the application to the ADTC, the District Attorney's office will contact defense counsel regarding a potential plea agreement (Note: defendants and counsel may reserve the right to present an open plea to the ADTC if a plea cannot be agreed upon.)
  • The defendant goes before the ADTC judge for admission.
  • The defendant signs the plea agreement, waiver of certain rights, and bail/entry contract in open court and will sign a release form for waiver of confidential substance abuse treatment information to be shared with the Court team members.

What circumstances may disqualify an individual for admission?

Prior convictions or pending criminal charges for murder, elevated aggravated assault, kidnapping, or sexual assault are disqualifications.

Individuals with certificates for medical marijuana are not eligible for admission. Individuals prescribed methadone or Suboxone/Subutex as opiate replacement therapies are not eligible.

The Court may exclude any defendant whom the Court deems to present a substantial danger to his/her victim or to the community, a substantial risk to the integrity of the judicial process, or a substantial risk, despite participation in the ADTC, of engaging in new criminal conduct.

If the Court team declines to admit an individual, a letter of explanation will be provided to the defense attorney.  The attorney may wish to request reconsideration.  This request should be made in writing to the Court Clerk and include a rationale as well as any additional information to assist the Court team in this process.

What can a participant expect to receive for substance abuse and other treatment services while in the Adult Drug Treatment Court?

Differential Substance Abuse Treatment (DSAT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment model developed and funded through the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and is provided to the Adult Drug Treatment Court by local specific substance abuse treatment agencies licensed by the state. DSAT is an outpatient group treatment program that provides specialized treatment for people who have committed crimes and have alcohol and/or other drug abuse problems. Differential means that the amount of treatment provided matches each individual's needs based on the seriousness of the problem. This may also mean different programs for men and women. DSAT seeks to build critical life skills and has proven to be an effective way of helping people change their behaviors.

Other treatment services may include mental health counseling, psychiatric medications, trauma treatment, anger management, and Batterers Intervention Groups.  The participant may not be able to choose which providers to see because of limited access to DSAT and because of the importance of providers having specialized training and experience in working with the criminal justice system. 

Treatment services are paid for by the State of Maine, MaineCare, other insurance, or out of pocket depending on an applicant's income.

What are the expectations of participants while in the Adult Drug Treatment Court?

The Adult Drug Treatment Court is very rigorous and can seem overwhelming at first but the vast majority of participants find that the expectations can be managed and will be of great benefit.  These expectations include but are not limited to:

  • Meeting with the Judge and the Court team every week or every other week along with other participants at the Courthouse to discuss progress
  • Meeting weekly with the Court case manager for check-in's
  • Providing urine samples for random and observed drug and alcohol testing no less than twice per week.
  • Attending treatment as recommended by the treatment provider; the most demanding portion of the treatment program will require six hours of group treatment per week for approximately five to six weeks
  • Attendance at self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Taking all medication as prescribed
  • Abstaining entirely from alcohol and drugs, unless prescribed
  • Nightly curfews
  • Avoiding people and places where alcohol is served or drugs are being used.
  • Work, attend an approved educational program, or perform community service.

As is clear from the expectations list above, participation in the Adult Drug Treatment Court requires a minimum of six to twelve hours per week.  Expectations are reduced as the participant progresses through the phases in the Court.  The duration of participation is a minimum of one year with an average of 16 months.

If there is an incident of serious noncompliance with expectations, an individual may be ordered by the Judge to serve up to seven days in jail without a hearing or more with a hearing.  If a participant is expelled from the Court, he or she will have to serve the sentence agreed upon at the time of admission.

If a participant provides information about his or her use of drugs or alcohol, the participant will not be charged with a crime nor expected to provide information as to where the substances were obtained. 

Additional important information can be found in the Participant Handbook and the Entry/Bail Contract.

Who are the members of the Adult Drug Treatment Court team?

  • Judge
  • Case Manager
  • Treatment Provider
  • Probation Officer
  • Prosecutor
  • Defense Attorney

For more information, contact the Adult Drug Treatment Court case manager: 

  • Cumberland County: (207) 774-1501
  • York County: (207) 282-1477
  • Hancock County: (207) 667-3624
  • Androscoggin County: (207) 330-7500
  • Washington County: (207) 853-4549

Or the Coordinator of Specialty Dockets and Grants at the Administrative Office of the Courts, (207) 592-3493 (cell phone) or (207) 213-2858.