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Maine Legislature approves bill to close Maine’s only juvenile detention facility

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 6:24 AM EDT
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - The Maine Legislature has approved a bill that would close the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland.

The Senate approved the legislation this week after the House approved it last week.

Long Creek is the state’s only juvenile detention facility.

It has a capacity of 164, but the current population is 24.

The bill requires the state to close Long Creek by the end of June 2023.

“It’s really about public safety and restorative justice. Long Creek does nothing to restore youth to a state of functioning in society. It’s a trauma-inducing facility,” bill sponsor Rep. Grayson Lookner said.

The facility would be repurposed as a community center with supportive housing.

Its $18 million a year in funds would be redirected to education and health care, including mental health and substance abuse treatment.

“It needs to go to housing for youth, it needs to go to mental health treatment for youth, jobs training, education. These are all things that are proven to reduce crime,” Lookner said.

Maine Department of Corrections opposes the bill, saying it “does take a balanced approach between public safety and rehabilitation.”

The DOC said youth at Long Creek “gain mentorship, education, and individualized support by dedicated and caring professionals.”

Corrections officials said they plan to allocate $6 million a year for community-based programs.

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