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Maine Comprehensive Three Year Plan for Juvenle Justice & Delinquency Prevention 2015-2017

Executive Summary

(click to read/print full document 9MB)

(click to read/print 2017 PLAN UPDATE 9MB)

 

The Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG) is one of the state and territory advisory groups set up under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. The group is made up of a variety of ex-officio and appointed at-large members representing justice-related areas. As part of its federal obligations, the JJAG is required to develop the State of Maine Three Year Comprehensive Plan for addressing juvenile justice and delinquency prevention issues and submit it to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). This plan is developed with core values of the JJAG in mind, “to ensure that our juvenile justice system is rare, fair, and beneficial” and that “evidence-based prevention programs are available.” The JJAG draws heavily on its relationship with the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine for data collection and analysis to help inform planning priorities.

Juvenile detention in Maine has been on a downward trend over the past several years. This has been fueled by a rise in support and availability of diversion programs. In August 2015, the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston was closed as a juvenile facility; as a result of these diversion programs, the youth population of Mountain View had declined to 9 and operating two facilities was no longer necessary. The JJAG support for programs such as Five Town Communities that Care, Penquis Community Action Program (CAP), and tribal initiatives has helped drive this decline in system-involved youth throughout the area served by Mountain View.

The JJAG intends to carry forward many of the same practices that have helped spur the already-dramatic reduction in system-involved youth while seeking further cost-effective options toward the same end. A primary objective is the expansion of restorative justice opportunities to youth in parts of the state currently unserved or underserved by existing programs. This will be accomplished primarily through further work with our sub-grantee, the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, which has developed self-replicating restorative justice programs in several Maine communities already. Boothbay Harbor, Augusta, Old Orchard Beach, Sanford, Waterville, Bangor, and Lewiston have benefitted from this program and seen results; the experiences of these communities have demonstrated the potential for similar programs to be developed across the state.

Social media and public outreach is an area in which the JJAG has not been especially well represented in the past. New initiatives in the 2015-2017 timespan should substantially improve our record in this area. Starting in August 2015, the JJAG has accepted the service of an AmeriCorps VISTA member who has a strong personal interest in social media outreach. Over the next year, Robert Deakin will help our assistant, Jason Carey, to provide a more structured oversight of JJAG’s social media presence and other components of outreach. Plans include an improved JJAG website and more active, curated social media presence to both draw interest and provide information in the web format. A renewed effort will take place in traditional media to raise awareness of the JJAG and the work that it accomplishes for Maine youth. A JJAG newsletter will be developed and made available to juvenile justice system stakeholders and short informational papers will be prepared for youth and parents becoming involved in the justice system in order to help them through the process.

The involvement of youth of color in the juvenile justice system, traditionally known as disproportionate minority contact (DMC), remains a problem in Maine. May 2015 saw the release ofDisproportionate Contact: Youth of Color in Maine’s Juvenile Justice System, the latest DMC report prepared for JJAG by the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. It found DMC both on the rise and penetrating deeper into the Maine juvenile justice system in each of five counties where statistically significant findings could be determined. This new report included qualitative data for the first time and revealed that both youth and families of color perceive a racial bias throughout Maine’s juvenile justice system; the quantitative data unfortunately bears out this perception in almost all instances. The JJAG has contracted with Strategies for Youth to provide analysis and training to address DMC issues in Lewiston and Portland starting in fall 2015. The Strategies for Youth Program will focus on educational training and police-community interactions. This new program will supplement efforts that Maine has already initiated to address DMC issues such as Effective Police Interactions with Youth training. Additionally, the Department of Corrections will be taking on a DMC Coordinator who will liaise with the JJAG Compliance Monitor in addressing juvenile DMC issues.

The overarching aim of the JJAG over the next three years is to continue practices which have led to a reduction in system-involved youth, investigate and address the root causes of rising DMC in certain Maine communities, and broaden the systemic presence of restorative justice practices as a program of first resort for arrested youth. The JJAG will continue to work with current sub-grantees and partners in pursuit of these goals, as well as seek out new opportunities to further the cause of fair juvenile justice throughout Maine. Public outreach will be improved upon in order to win broader support for JJAG initiatives and to inform the wider community about JJAG activities, particularly through the underutilized medium of social media where possible. Each of these actions, and any which the JJAG may embark upon over the next three years, will continue to be driven by the core value of, “a fair, equitable, and responsive justice system…”

 

maine jjag three year plan

 

The JJAG prepares the State juvenile justice plan; manages funds awarded to the State under terms of the federal act; monitors State compliance with national juvenile standards; and advises State policy makers on juvenile justice issues.