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Maine House approves bill to shutter youth prison

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Grayson Lookner, D-Portland, now goes to the Senate for consideration

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House has approved a bill to close the state’s only prison for youthful offenders within two years. 

The 81-57 vote on Thursday followed party lines and now goes to the Maine Senate. 

The bill would direct the Maine Department of Corrections to close Long Creek Youth Development Center within two years. 

According to the Portland Press Herald, the nearly $19 million spent on Long Creek each year would be invested in "a continuum of community-based alternatives" for minors either incarcerated at Long Creek or who might have been there otherwise.

The Legislature would also transfer responsibility for caring for the youth to another agency or entity, the Press Herald reported.

A two-thirds majority is needed to overcome a potential veto from Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. 

There are currently several dozen people detained in the facility, which is designed to hold up to 200.