PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The ACLU of Maine wants the state to shut down the Long Creek Youth Development Center in the wake of a damning independent, state-commissioned report on what's happening there.
The assessment was done by the Center for Children's Law Policy. While it found the staff at Long Creek to be dedicated, it cited these serious concerns:
► Staffing shortages at Long Creek are hindering the ability to supervise youth in a safe and humane manner, and they are jeopardizing the safety of staff as well
► Long Creek houses many youth with profound and complex mental health problems, youth whom the facility is neither designed for nor staffed to manage
► Staffing shortages, coupled with the severe mental health problems of youth, have led to a number of dangerous and harmful conditions and practices
► DOC training provided to staff assigned to Long Creek provides some helpful information, but it is not adequate to equip Juvenile Program Workers and supervisors with all of the skills needed to work with at-risk youth
► Long Creek must do more to create a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, gender non-conforming, and transgender (LGBQ/GNCT) youth
► Detained youth at Long Creek are not receiving legally mandated general and special education services
"The science is so clear. Kids never belong in prison. We have other solutions," said ACLU of Maine Executive Director Alison Beyea. "Other states have done this we can do better. We are only talking about 70 kids. I am very confident the state of Maine can protect our children better than they're doing now."
What other states have done, and what the reports suggest Maine consider, is move away from large detention centers, into smaller facilities whether youth people can get more focused attention.
We reached out to Long Creek for comment today but did not hear back.