The Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center has 10 inmates, or “residents” as they are referred to, and is expecting another two in the coming weeks, according to the facility’s program director, Michael Tausek.

The 32-bed re-entry center is housed in the former Waldo County Jail. The building was converted as part of an ongoing statewide consolidation of state prison and county jail systems. The facility is considered a pilot program.

Residents of the re-entry center are selected from among a pool of eligible inmates nearing the end of their prison sentences, with a preference given to those deemed at high risk for returning to prison. The center only accepts men, and sex offenders are not allowed. Tausek said many of the residents at MCRRC today were incarcerated for crimes related to substance abuse.

To date, Tausek said, none of the residents at MCRRC has been sent back to jail. Tausek worked at a re-entry center in Massachusetts at which, he said, 60 percent of those who started in the program went back to prison rather than be released. Many of these were gang members. Tausek conceded that the Massachusetts facility couldn’t be compared to MCRRC, but he said, by contrast, residents at MCRRC seem to be buying into the program.

Residents at MCRRC undertake 30 to 40 hours per week of programming, including substance abuse counseling, sessions on nonviolent communication, restorative justice, men’s groups, job training and education, which Tausek said can be a major contributor to the success of those who go through the program.

“If these guys are used to making two to three thousand [dollars] a week selling cocaine, it’s going to be hard to have them work for $7.50 an hour. But if we can get them that educational background, maybe we can see some difference.”

Sheriff Scott Story said he believes there have been misconceptions about the re-entry center, both in the public and among his law enforcement peers. The latter, he said, have generally warmed to the idea when he has explained the rigorous schedule of rehabilitative programs the residents go through. “This isn’t day camp,” he said. “This is a lot harder — what they have to do here, in these 12- and 14-hour days — is way harder than sitting around watching cable television and waiting to get out.”