I read with interest Eric Russell’s Feb. 4 piece on Long Creek Youth Development Center and its new director. I have several problems with Mr. Russell’s report:

He repeats the oft-touted claim that Maine was once a leader in the juvenile justice field. I have been interacting with the Maine Youth Center/Long Creek since 1978, and that leadership role must have been before my time. Over the years, your own newspaper has continually reported abuse, neglect and staffing problems at this facility. We paid one former inmate $600,000 after his attorney sued the state because the youth was allegedly strapped to a chair for over 48 hours and forced to sit in his own waste.

The state has continually violated the standards set in the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. They have housed adults with juveniles (violation); they have locked up juveniles for noncriminal misbehavior (violation); and they have filed to adequately classify inmates (also a violation).

Your newspaper has issued an editorial call for this facility to close. Maybe your news pages should reiterate that position instead of buying one more gallon of paint to cover the rot.

One more small item: Your reporter claims there are no psychiatric facilities for juveniles in Maine. I count three: Spring Harbor of South Portland, St. Mary’s of Lewiston and Acadia of Bangor/Hampden. All three offer both in-hospital and outpatient services. Here in Washington County, the Aroostook Mental Health Center offers a buffet of treatment options.

Harry H. Snyder III


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