Children should not be in prison – it is a failed system that harms young people and wastes the state’s resources. We need to shift our priorities and our funding away from incarceration and punishment, to community-based alternatives that give children appropriate support and allow them to thrive.
The goals of LD 320 are to ensure fewer children are incarcerated, shorter periods of incarceration for those children who are imprisoned, and access to an attorney at every phase of a child’s juvenile court case.
In part, LD 320 makes three important changes
- Currently under Maine law, children of any age can be charged with a crime and sent to prison. LD 320 establishes 12 as the youngest age at which children can be charged with a crime.
- Maine requires that children committed to Long Creek, the state’s youth detention facility, be held a minimum of one year. Maine’s one-year mandatory minimum requirement for any offense is an outlier. The vast majority of states, including all other New England states, have no such minimum. LD 320 repeals this requirement.
- After children are committed to Long Creek, they lose access to their court-appointed lawyers. Maine is failing at its constitutional obligation to ensure all people – including children – charged with a crime and deprived of their liberty have access to an attorney. LD 320 would restore access.