A grant from the Justice Department and technology installed in courthouses during the pandemic will bring allow two new drug courts in open in western and midcoast Maine. District Court Judge Charles Budd is shown in a file photo conducting a drug court session remotely in Bangor. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Grant totaling $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow the Maine court system to open two new adult drug treatment courts in areas where none have been operating.

The four-year grants will allow drug courts to open in western Maine and the midcoast, according to Anne Jordan, judicial branch manager of criminal process and specialty dockets.

They are expected to begin accepting participants in March for programs based at courthouses in South Paris and Rockland. Residents of Franklin and Oxford counties will be eligible to apply for the program in South Paris. Residents of Lincoln, Knox, Waldo and Sagadahoc counties will be eligible to join the program in Rockland.

Drug courts are available, generally through plea agreements, to people whose crimes were related to a substance use disorder. The courts depend on teams that include judges, case managers, treatment providers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and probation officers, who must agree on each admission and oversee the defendants’ progress.

Participants must agree to frequent drug testing and counseling, and regular check-ins with the probation officer. Failing a drug test can result in sanctions, including jail time.

Participants must seek employment and be honest with the judge and other team members.

Technology acquired and installed during the pandemic is expected to make it easier for participants to participate remotely using Zoom if they are unable to travel to the courthouses.

Drug courts around the state were able to continue operating when the courts limited the number of people coming into courthouses to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Grant funds will be used to pay for treatment, case management, random drug testing, peer mentoring and other related services for people whose crimes are related to a substance use disorder.

Adult drug treatment courts currently operate in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Hancock, Penobscot and Washington counties.