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Task force created to help transform juvenile justice in Maine

New task force is collaboration of state legislators, the Department of Corrections and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group

May 16, 2019

Rep. Brennan

AUGUSTA - Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland, announced today a newly formed task force to examine the state's juvenile justice system and develop recommendations for continuum of care for system-involved youth and those at risk for becoming involved in the justice system.

Chaired by Brennan, Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty and Jill Ward of the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law, the task force brings together state government leaders from multiple agencies, legislators, the Judiciary branch, practitioners and impacted communities. The task force will work with national experts to assess the efficacy of the current system and develop recommendations to improve outcomes for system-involved youth. The group will study ways Maine can develop a more comprehensive, coordinated continuum of care that more effectively targets resources to meet individual needs in ways that support families and strengthen communities.

The work of the task force will be guided by LD 1108, legislation introduced by Brennan, and previous work of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. The task force plans to provide a report of findings and recommendations to the Legislature in early 2020.

"There is no higher priority than our children," said Governor Janet Mills. My administration is committed to protecting and supporting them from their early years through their transition to adulthood, and I see the Task Forces work as a critical component to help inform and improve public policy across state agencies to better serve the needs of our children.

We are at a pivotal moment in the history of juvenile justice in Maine. Before us is the opportunity to really transform our system and in ways that will allow our young people to thrive and make our communities safer, said Brennan. This collaboration will help us get there.

Maine has had great success in reducing the number of youth detained and committed over the past decade and in increasing the number of young people diverted from the system entirely, said DOC Commissioner Randall Liberty. We are ready to take the next step, working with colleagues across agencies, to identify the resources and approaches to create and sustain a community-based continuum of care that improves the lives of kids and families throughout the state.

The best way to ensure public safety is by creating a healthy and hopeful young person, said Ned Chester, chair of the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. The Juvenile Justice Advisory Group is pleased to be able to support this historic effort to fundamentally transform our juvenile justice system by developing a true community-based continuum of care for our youth.

To design the full range supports and services to support our young people, promote healing and justice, and ensure communities have the resources to sustain a continuum of care, elected officials and system leaders must work together in partnership with those most impacted, said Jill Ward. It is my hope that this task force will generate opportunities for dialogue and learning that will result stronger, safer, healthier communities where all young people can thrive.

Task Force Membership

The first meeting of the task force will take place on Friday, May 17, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Capitol Judicial Center, Tamberlin Room, 2nd Floor, 1 Court Street, Augusta. The meeting is open to the public.

Contact:

Katie Walsh [Brennan], 286-1436, c. 776-2122