Long Creek Youth Development Center

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

A Maine Supreme Court justice will allow a 13-year-old boy who has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial to remain at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland until alternative placement can be found.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

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.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

The number of women incarcerated in Maine is rising fast. In the past six years the number of female inmates at the Maine Correctional Center (MCC) in Windham has grown from about 150 to more than 220, as of April. And the state Department of Corrections has a problem: the overcrowded women's facility is housed in a men's prison.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

A Maine attorney says her 13-year-old client is being illegally detained at Long Creek Youth Development Center.

Disability Rights Maine has filed a lawsuit against Maine's Department of Corrections (DOC).

BA BARTLET / PANORAMIO.COM

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine has filed suit against the Long Creek Youth Development Center, the Department of Corrections, and medical and dental providers on behalf of an 11-year-old boy who was allegedly beaten by corrections officers. The ACLU’s complaint also says the boy was denied adequate medical treatment. The case is prompting a call for possible legislative or judicial oversight of Long Creek.

Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland
BA Bartlett / panoramio.com

Echoing the findings shared at a juvenile justice summit in Maine last Fall, the Muskie School of Public Service and the University of Maine School of Law are calling for a shift away from youth prisons like Long Creek in South Portland to non-residential community-based programs and services. And they’ve produced a report that suggests the transition will save money and produce better outcomes for kids.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

The Maine Department of Corrections says it’s taking steps to improve the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, after an independent audit recently found serious safety and other deficiencies at the juvenile correctional facility.

DOC administrators say they are filling staff vacancies, hiring more mental health workers and undertaking a new initiative to treat kids with serious mental illness in the community.

Maine Public, file

An outside consultant hired by the Maine Department of Corrections to review suicide prevention practices at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland has found several deficiencies in the wake of a trangender teen resident’s suicide last year.

The man in charge of running the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland has been placed on administrative leave, according to published reports.

Long Creek Superintendent Jeffrey Merrill could not be reached for comment. But his leave comes after a series of incidents that have raised questions about policies and safety for youth at the state-run prison.

Corrections Commissioner Dr. Joseph Fitzpatrick will convene a panel of experts in Maine this week to review suicide prevention and LGBT policies at the Long Creek Youth Development Center.

The meeting follows the recent suicide of a transgender teen at the facility, the first death of a child in state custody in more than 20 years.

Fitzpatrick says he’s open to any and all suggestions, and he also says it may also be time to consider creation of a state psychiatric facility for mentally ill youth.

Michelle Knowles and Maze Knowles
Contributed photo

The mother of a transgender teen who took his own life at the Long Creek Youth Development Center says her son’s mental health needs were going unmet and he was languishing in the facility.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

It’s been nearly two weeks since Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick released a vague, two-sentence statement saying a resident at the Long Creek Youth Development Center was involved in an unspecified “incident” and that all action was being taken to deal with the situation.

Several days later, the Maine attorney general’s office confirmed that the death of a juvenile resident at Long Creek was under review by the state medical examiner. State officials, citing confidentiality laws, declined to release additional details.

LEWISTON, Maine - A juvenile being held at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland has died.  Few details are being released about the nature of the death or the person's identity.

The Maine Attorney General's Office confirmed that the case has been reported to the chief medical examiner "for review to determine time, date, place, cause, manner and circumstances of the death." 

CHARLESTON, Maine — The Maine Department of Corrections is converting a youth prison here into a facility for adult offenders with complex medical needs.