More than 60 youth rallied on the steps of the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta Tuesday morning to urge members of the state's Juvenile Justice Task Force to recommend closure of the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, where about 50 kids are currently held.
The protesters are part of a statewide organization called Maine Youth Justice, a non-partisan, youth-led movement to end youth incarceration and to reinvest the $18.2 million spent on Long Creek into mental health counseling, education and other support services for kids.
Al Cleveland of Portland is the group's campaign manager and says the rally was timed to coincide with the final meeting of the task force in the courthouse.
"We are here to demand that every single member of that task force call for a plan of closure of that facility and the reinvestment in those funds," says Cleveland.
The task force is expected to make sweeping recommendations to reform the state's juvenile justice system, but not to immediately close the youth center.