skip to main content

Thursday, June 1, 2023

play newscast audioPlay

Alabamans urge a grocery tax reduction, a tape shows Trump knew about a classified document on Iran, Pennsylvania puts federal road funds to work and Minnesota's marijuana law will wipe away minor offenses.

play newscast audioPlay

Democrats say a wealth tax would help alleviate some national debt, lawmakers aim to continue pandemic-era funding for America's child care sector, and teachers say firearms at school will make students less safe.

play newscast audioPlay

Oregon may expand food stamp eligibility to some undocumented households, rural areas have a new method of accessing money for roads and bridges, and Tennessee's new online tool helps keep track of cemetery locations.

State Task Force Urges Maine to Phase Out Only Juvenile Facility

play audio
Play

Thursday, February 27, 2020   

AUGUSTA, Maine -- A task force in Maine is recommending that the state's only juvenile-corrections facility be emptied within three years.

A group of legislators and juvenile justice experts has spent more than six months analyzing Long Creek, Maine's only juvenile facility. It also hired the Center for Children's Law and Policy, a D.C.-based nonprofit, to write a report examining the state's juvenile justice system.

This extensive report was presented at the statehouse this week, with recommendations for increasing community-based responses and limiting the number of confined youths.

Atlee Reilly is the managing attorney at Disability Rights Maine and a task force member. He was asked if he thinks Long Creek can be phased out within three years.

"Hopefully it won't take that long," says Reilly. "If a lot of these recommendations are followed, it will become even clearer than it is now that Maine does not need a facility of the type and size of Long Creek."

The facility can house more than 160 youth, but these days it usually has fifty to sixty young people there. This is also because Maine has diverted a lot of youths from Long Creek in the past decade.

The task force strongly recommends funding more community-based alternatives, including mental-health and substance-abuse treatment programs.

According to the report, more than half of the young people at Long Creek are there simply because they need care and have nowhere else to go. The report also says that 73% of those detained at Long Creek for more than thirty days were just waiting for another placement or community-based programming.

Malory Shaughnessy is the executive director of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services in Maine and a task force member. Shaughnessy says one of the biggest challenges is the low level of Medicaid reimbursement for behavioral-health treatment.

"We have empty beds in our residential treatment units because reimbursement rates have not kept up and they cannot afford to hire staff to staff those beds," says Shaughnessy.

She claims there are currently thirty-five to forty empty beds because of this workforce shortage.

Shaughnessy notes that reimbursement rates for behavioral health services from MaineCare, the state's Medicaid program, haven't changed since the minimum wage was $5 to $6 an hour. Now it's $12 an hour.

So, because these facilities can't afford to hire staff, Shaughnessy says too many youths are waiting for addiction and mental-health treatment.

"Youths that are prescribed 20 hours of intensive treatment for six months get maybe 10 hours or get none at all," says Shaughnessy. "Or we have over 500 kids at various times, of youth on waiting lists for this treatment."

Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland, a co-chair of the juvenile justice task force, is sponsoring a bill that would phase out Long Creek and provide $3.5 million this year for community-based therapeutic services and other youth programs.

Right now, Maine spends about $17 million a year to operate Long Creek. Brennan's bill has a public hearing next week.


get more stories like this via email

A new park, San Vicente Redwoods, opened up late last year near Santa Cruz, Calif., in an area previously ravaged by fire and logging. (Nadia Hamey)

Environment

play sound

This Saturday, June 3, thousands of Californians will be among hundreds of thousands of Americans heading into the great outdoors to celebrate …


Social Issues

play sound

A coalition of Wisconsin groups is asking Gov. Tony Evers to reject bills it contends would make it harder for people struggling to get by to bounce …

Social Issues

play sound

Two months from today, Minnesota will begin the process of removing low-level marijuana convictions for those who have them on their criminal records…


Alabama is one of only three states still applying its full state sales tax on the purchase of groceries and food items. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Groups working to fight poverty in Alabama are urging state senators to approve a bill aimed at lowering food costs for families. House Bill 479 …

Social Issues

play sound

Navigating college can seem overwhelming for first generation students, but an early outreach program at Arizona State University aims to change it…

Nebraska was one of 10 states to further restrict abortion access in the 2023 legislative session. At least 48 bills were passed involving restrictions for LGBTQ+ individuals. (Yurii Kibalnik/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

A new Nebraska law is now the subject of a lawsuit filed in the District Court of Lancaster County. In its amended form, Legislative Bill 574 …

Social Issues

play sound

A proposal from the federal government could provide a better path toward student loan debt repayment, but a new survey finds many borrowers don't …

Environment

play sound

Maine lawmakers are considering two pieces of legislation which supporters said are needed to ensure "responsible" development of offshore wind projec…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021