A juvenile defense attorney says Long Creek Youth Development Center is holding a 13-year-old boy unlawfully. Defense Attorney Sarah Branch argued in court Thursday that her client should no longer be held at the institution.
The boy has been ruled unfit for trial multiple times and has been held at the state's only youth incarceration center since December, Branch says, without a conviction of any crime.
"It is just fundamentally wrong that an incompetent child is being treated worse than an adult who would be similarly situated to him in an adult system," Branch says.
An adult would likely be sent to Riverview Psychiatric Center. The Department of Corrections says there aren't the resources to accommodate the incarcerated youth elsewhere.
Branch argued before the Maine Supreme Court that her client remains detained because of what she called “gaps” in the juvenile justice system.
"If nothing else comes from this litigation, I hope it draws attention to the fact that there are so many gaps in the system and we have an obligation to close those gaps," she says.
Branch says her client is not receiving appropriate mental health care at the facility. The boy's juvenile status seals his record, but he has been detained at Long Creek before.
The judge could rule on Branch's petitions as early as Friday.