- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A national policy group recommended Maine invest more in community-based services in an effort to reduce the number of incarcerated minors.

The Center for Children’s Law and Policy hired by the Maine Department of Corrections found in a survey that more than half of detained youth were held because the state lacked the proper programs and services, the Portland Press Herald reported Tuesday.

“The under-investment … has left us with fewer options than we need,” Mark Soler, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based policy group. “Kids are waiting and being incarcerated for long periods of time because the right non-secure programs and services are not available. That’s a problem.”

The preliminary findings of the study detailed that just under half of detained youth in Maine had not committed crimes against another person, and 53% were incarcerated because the state lacked alternative places to house them safely.

The findings were presented by Soler and his team to roughly 30 members of the Juvenile Justice System Assessment and Reinvestment Task Force that began meeting last year.

The center is expected to submit its final report in February, and the recommendations are expected to lay the groundwork for widespread reform proposals to the state’s juvenile justice system.

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