On Thursday, September 7th, 2023, The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) and Volunteers of America (VOA) Northern New England co-hosted the third virtual Maine statewide convening. This gathering brought together various participants, including Maine law enforcement agencies, community partners, local residents, and those formerly incarcerated or currently incarcerated in Maine facilities. The primary goal of the event was to engage in discussions relevant to Maine’s deflection and diversion efforts.
Robyn Goff, Director of Community Justice Programs at VOA Northern New England, began the event by providing some context and a brief history of the partnership between VOA and PAARI. The purpose of this event was to talk about the growth that has happened for deflection and diversion programs within the state of Maine, including a discussion about Maine’s updated Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan.
Following Robyn’s introduction, Brittney Garrett, PAARI’s Senior Director of Public Safety Engagement and Strategy, gave a quick overview of deflection, which is a non-arrest approach that allows law enforcement agencies to support individuals in accessing treatment and recovery services. Brittney also discussed PAARI’s activities during National Deflection Week. A comprehensive overview of what PAARI did for the week can be found HERE.
Bailey Pratt, LEAD Case Manager at Scarborough Police Department, then spoke about the LEAD Steering Committee in Southern Maine. LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, is a community-based diversion program that was created to improve public safety and public order by reducing unnecessary criminal justice system involvement. Scarborough PD’s completely voluntary LEAD program was launched in 2020 through a COSSUP grant.
To provide an update on Maine’s Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan, Gordon Smith, the State of Maine Opioid Director, offered valuable information. You can view the updated plan for ‘23 – ‘24 HERE.
The event also featured frontline workers, Danielle Michaud and Lydia Caron, who shared their experiences with deflection and diversion programs, including success stories and challenges they’ve encountered along the way.
34 professionals from the below organizations attended the convening:
- AIMe – Artivism in Maine
- Alternative Correctional Healthcare
- City of Auburn
- CSG Justice Center
- Department of Corrections
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Downeast Community Partners
- Governor’s Office
- Health Equity Alliance
- Helping Incarcerated Individuals Transition and Beyond Bars
- Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution
- Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office
- Maine Pretrial Services
- Office of Behavioral Health
- Pen Bay IMAT
- Portland Police Department
- Public Defender Association
- Recovery Organization Resources
- Restorative Justice Project Maine
- Scarborough Police Department
- State of Maine
- Sweetser OPTIONS
- The Maine Psychological Association
- Volunteers of America Northern New England
- Waldo County YMCA
The next quarterly Maine Convening will be held in 2024. We hope to see you there!