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Maine Lawmakers Consider Proposal To Close Youth Correctional Facility

Maine Public File

Some lawmakers, advocates and former residents of the Long Creek Youth Development Center are urging members of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee to support legislation that would close the facility within the next two years.

Long Creek, the state’s youth correctional facility, has a budget of over $18 million a year to house about 28 individuals. That works out to about $700,000 a year per resident.

Democratic state Rep. Grayson Lookner of Portland, who sponsored the bill, says there are better ways to use that money to treat young offenders.

“That amount of spending has not mitigated or reduced the fact that Long Creek has been a place of violence and trauma for young people too long,” he says.

No one opposed the bill at the hearing, although some committee members expressed concerns about how violent young offenders would be handled.

“On security classifications I know some very serious crimes are committed and can be very dangerous,” said Republican state Sen. Scott Cyrway of Benton.

In written testimony, Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty says while the Mills administration is open to looking at alternative treatment options, it does not support closing Long Creek.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.