The Maine Department of Corrections has taken a proactive approach in reforming the use of restrictive housing. We are proud of the outcomes of these efforts, including decreased placements, shortened duration of placements, decreased facility incidents, and improved case plan and program compliance.
Less than 1% of the Department’s adult prison population is housed in a restrictive housing setting at any given time. A few aspects of the new approach to restrictive housing include:
- Offenders spend 2 to 4 hours out of their cell each day, seven days per week, for programming and education, recreation, on-unit work, and structured activity.
- After downsizing the unit, the new physical environment provides considerably more daylight, access to improved outdoor recreation space, modern exercise equipment, and secured programming space.
- Use of a revised level system allows offenders to earn additional privileges, property, and commissary, as well as paid work opportunities and gradual decreased use of restraints.
- High level of accountability in the placement and review process. Every offender placed in restrictive housing is reviewed within the first 72 hours of placement, and if retained, provided an appropriate case plan. Behavioral expectations, regular and meaningful reviews, and individual case plan progress are utilized to progress offenders back into general population in the most safe and efficient manner.
Intensive Mental Health Unit (IMHU)
The Maine Department of Corrections takes seriously the treatment and welfare of incarcerated individuals with serious mental health challenges entrusted to our care. Maine State Prison houses the Intensive Mental Health Unit (IMHU), for acute or severe mental health needs. The IMHU is a 32 bed unit and was opened in February 2014. Since that time, the IMHU has continuously housed an average of 23 residents referred from within the Department of Corrections or from Riverview Psychiatric Center and Maine’s County Jails. Since the unit opened it has been able to house the state’s most difficult to manage mentally ill prisoners and provide them the mental health treatment they need, treatment which most facilities do not have the resources to provide. The IMHU:
- Provides a structured daily routine with intensive clinical treatment and care.
- Delivers educational and enrichment programming, along with agricultural activities.
- Ensures regular and adequate security and safety for staff and residents.
Positive outcomes of the IMHU include:
- Reduced incidents of self-injurious behavior and incidence of violence.
- Improved medication compliance and stabilization.
- Successful and coordinated transitions back to county jails, transitions back to Department housing units, and transitions to the community.
- Transfers to psychiatric hospitals following forensic evaluations.
Release and Reentry
The Maine Department of Corrections releases approximately 1,200 offenders annually. Reentry planning is initiated at the time of admission and is a focus throughout an offender’s time, most notably during the last nine months of incarceration. A high percentage of these prisoners release directly from a treatment program or pre-release setting to the community. In order to adequately address the populations’ reentry needs, the Department provides a variety of reentry-related services to the prisoner population, including:
- Enrollment in the Work Ready vocational education program,
- Enrollment in the Planning Your Release (or similar) release planning program,
- Individualized release planning with case management staff, beginning at the time of admission and becoming a primary focus nine (9) months before release,
- Referral to DHHS Intensive Case Management Services (if appropriate),
- Transition to pre-release facilities for work release (if appropriate),
- Partnerships with DHHS, Social Security, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and DOL Career Centers for direct referrals and provisions of services,
- Placement onto the Supervised Community Confinement Program;
The Department continues to expand its focus on the reentry needs of the prisoner population, and continues to expand the provision of services provided to this population. It is the Department’s goal to offer the appropriate and necessary services to the prisoner population in order to properly prepare them for successful reentry into society, reducing the likelihood for future criminal behaviors.
To achieve successful outcomes for female offenders, the Maine Department of Corrections uses evidence-based, gender-responsive, and trauma-informed assessments and programming. Challenges faced by women involved in the criminal justice system differ from their male counterparts. These issues and challenges, such as domestic/sexual violence, substance abuse, trauma and motherhood, are circumstances taken into account by the Department when designing effective programming and services for female offenders. For more information about women involved in the criminal justice system and gender responsive strategies, please visit: