During the spring of 2010, Sheriff Randall A. Liberty and the Corrections Administration at Kennebec County Correctional Facility (KCCF), in coordination with the Maine Board of Corrections (BOC), decided to transform the facility into a facility that specialized in intensively addressing substance abuse and criminal thinking. In collaboration with Crisis & Counseling Centers, a pilot program was started in August of 2010 with seven inmates with clear evidence of longstanding substance abuse and criminal behavior. As of June 2011, the Criminogenic Addiction & Recovery Academy (CARA) has graduated over 58 men and women who completed an intensive five week program focusing on the key issues fueling their continued substance abuse and criminal involvement. We anticipate 240 graduates annually from the program once it is running at full capacity. The program is intended to be a statewide resource and encourages referrals from other correctional facilities.
“We need to stop the revolving door…”
— Sheriff Randall Liberty
Kennebec County Maine
Who is eligible?
Sentenced inmates with enough time left on their sentence to complete the five week program and who have a history of significant substance abuse and repeated criminal involvement will be considered for participation in CARA.
Referral & Screening
The referral process is coordinated by the Classifications Department at KCCF. Referrals may be made by Defense Attorneys, District Attorneys, Probation Officers, community providers and through self-referral by inmates themselves. After initial review of the referral, a comprehensive screening occurs to assess criminal thinking, co-occurring disorders, treatment motivation, risk of relapse and re-offending.
Admission & Treatment
After screening is completed and the application is reviewed by the KCCF Programs Department, successful candidates are transferred to a housing block at KCCF that has been created specifically for CARA and is separated from the general population.
The program is delivered over a five-week period, with daily structured and facilitated group and individual activities. The core program is comprised of treatment to address co-occurring disorders (following the DSAT curriculum) and criminal thinking (using the Pathways curriculum); work readiness, parenting skills and ethical decision-making. Self-help meetings (AA) and community service activities are also provided to increase the inmates’ exposure to and involvement in pro-social activities.
Programming is gender specific, addressing the different pathways men and women take to substance abuse and criminal behavior.
A therapeutic community model is used to supervise CARA inmates and to maximize the impact of the intensive programming. Specially trained Correctional Officers are responsible for facilitating “community meetings” three times daily, in addition to observing and monitoring inmates’ participation in treatment activities throughout the day and evening program hours.
A critical component to making a successful return to the community is adequate transition planning while incarcerated. Inmates begin receiving reentry services during Week 1 of the CARA program. Case managers meet individually with inmates to identify their unique individual community reentry needs (housing, medical care, transportation, entitlement program eligibility, vocational/educational referrals) and graduate from the program with a “portfolio” of resources available to them.
“We wanted to create something that helped people understand how they got stuck in criminal and antisocial behaviors and what they could do to get out.”
— Michael Mitchell, Clinical Director at Crisis & Counseling Centers and author of CARA’s criminogenic curriculum, Pathways.
Upon completion of the CARA program, participants enter into the Kennebec Regional Reentry Project (KeRRP), which is funded with a federal Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Demonstration Grant. KeRRP provides reentry support during incarceration and after release to CARA participants and others, as needed. Services provided can include case management; limited, targeted financial support (for rent security deposit, transportation, prescriptions, etc.); housing case management; restorative justice/community service support and mentoring; job search support and other services. Agencies partnering with Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office on the project include Crisis & Counseling Centers, Maine PreTrial Services, NAMI Maine and Hornby Zeller Associates. The project anticipates serving up to 240 inmates annually.
“It saved my life. If I didn’t go into that program I
wouldn’t have learned how to be pro-social, I wouldn’t
have changed my criminal thinking and I wouldn’t
have gotten sober. I’d be dead.”
— CARA Graduate
“The CARA Program has given me many tools that I
use daily and will use for the rest of my life … I’m a
— CARA Graduate