AUGUSTA — Two women sentenced Friday for various offenses will be among 11 women starting a newly revamped CARA program at the Kennebec County jail.

The specialty program, Criminogenic Addiction Recovery Academy, aimed at helping people break the cycle of rearrest by dealing with their substance abuse and criminal thinking, has been dormant recently because of a lack of funding.

But it’s now restarting with $120,000 provided by the Legislature and a hand from Augusta officials.

Justice Robert Mullen, the judge at Friday’s hearings in the Capital Judicial Center, told each of the women, Danielle L. Hayden and Nichole M. Pranes, that he hoped they could succeed in the newly re-launched program.

“It’s a completely new program,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said, adding that a program for men will begin after the initial women’s program has been operating for 12 weeks.

Those in the CARA program spend an initial five and a half weeks involved with programming inside the jail before being placed on home release for another five and a half weeks under an intensive outpatient program run by Crisis & Counseling Centers personnel. The participants are followed by Maine Pretrial Services for a year with conditions that require calling in daily and reporting weekly in person.

The participants are subject to frequent random drug testing and prohibited from using alcohol and from illegal possession and use of drugs.

“We have statistics that it has proven successful,” Maloney said, citing numbers from Sheriff Ryan Reardon that show a re-offending rate of 18-20 percent for new criminal conduct among those who complete the program. “We’re hoping the changes can bring those numbers even lower.”

Recidivism data from the National Institute of Justice show that two-thirds of prisoners are rearrested within three years of release.

“We are making some changes to the after-care part of the program to make it more effective,” Reardon said.

Maloney said a need for managed sober housing became apparent when some CARA participants were released from jail and returned to the drug scene they had been in before.

“Clean/sober housing in the community will give the CARA graduates a greater opportunity for success,” she said, noting that even without it, those who are participating in CARA live in the community after their jail sentence is complete.

“This is not changing the amount of time they spend in jail,” Maloney said.

Both Reardon and Maloney praised Augusta Mayor Dave Rollins for his work in helping to identify possible sites for sober housing.

“We have talked to landlords who have been outstanding,” Reardon said, adding that the housing would not be paid for by the city or any agency but through existing general assistance the participants receive. While CARA operates at the Kennebec County jail, participants from other counties generally go back there once they complete the jail portion of the program.

Reardon said the longer people can remain in a structured program, the better their recovery.

“With long-term heroin use, it can take a year or more to get the opiate out of the system and to finish the withdrawal,” he said.

“Without the leadership of Mayor Rollins, we would not even have the possibility of clean housing for the CARA graduates,” Maloney said. “It is not definite yet, but we are moving toward a monumental change. Clean/sober housing in the community will give the CARA graduates a greater opportunity for success.”

Rollins said his role is as a liaison between the district attorney, the treatment services and the sheriff and “bringing that group to a couple of landlords that are willing to discuss establishing sober houses so people can establish themselves in a living environment where there is no usage or dealing going on.”

“Some people are excited about it,” Rollins said. “They feel they can do it and be financially whole and feel they can contribute to the community in that they’re helping to provide treatment and rehabilitation service.”

He also said City Councilor Patrick Paradis volunteered to serve as facilitator for the group.

“It’s very important that we invest time and money into treatment and rehabilitation so that we create a group of recovered individuals that return to be productive members of society,” Rollins said.

Rollins also wants to focus on preventing addiction, saying he encourages leaders of children’s and youth groups to incorporate discussions and awareness about the harms of substance abuse.

Hayden, 42, formerly of Belgrade and more recently of Skowhegan, was sentenced Friday to an initial six months in jail with the remainder of the five-year term suspended and three years’ probation.

Hayden had pleaded guilty March 11 to a number of charges, including burglarizing a local pastor’s home while the 69-year-old man was at church services. The victim reported about $2,000 was stolen from his home on July 26, 2015, in Belgrade. Hayden had been at the Belgrade man’s home a day earlier asking for money and saw that he got it from his freezer, according to a police affidavit.

She and another woman went to the home the next morning when he was out, but Hayden was seen and recognized by a neighbor. No charges were filed against the woman who was with Hayden.

Hayden also pleaded guilty to an April 13, 2015, theft at Wal-Mart in Augusta, and then criminal trespass and violating conditions of bail offenses which occurred at Wal-Mart in Augusta on Nov. 28, 2015.

Hayden, who had been free on bail, was taken into custody at the close of the hearing in the Capital Judicial Center.

“The sentence is five years, and that’s what you could end up serving if you don’t comply,” Justice Robert Mullen told her. “If you do comply, I think this is a tremendous opportunity for you.”

He added, “If you are successful, I think society and yourself will be all the better for it.”

Pranes, 40, of Waldoboro, was placed on an 18-month deferred disposition after pleading guilty Friday to a felony charge of unlawful possession of cocaine base from Nov. 5, 2015, in Pittston. If she successfully completes CARA and other conditions of the deferred disposition, the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor level and she would be sentenced to 364 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of probation.

“I do not underestimate for a moment what it is to be an addict,” Mullen told Pranes. “This is in my mind a very generous offer.” He also warned her, “You have zero wiggle room for error.”

Pranes assured the judge she would succeed, and he offered to congratulate her “on the record” if she returns to tell him so.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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