Recent media coverage (Sept. 16) depicts Long Creek Youth Development Center as a house of horrors. Left out of the discussion is the fact that, over the past few years, the number of incarcerated youth has been reduced by about 75 percent. Those few who end up at Long Creek have been charged with serious offenses. Most Mainers would agree with Gov. Mills that Maine needs a secure facility for serious offenders who pose a threat to public safety.

Friends of Long Creek is an all-volunteer group of mentors and concerned adults that provides college courses and vocational training – at no cost to Maine taxpayers – to all incarcerated youth at Long Creek,. Over the years we have seen young people released from Long Creek go on to complete college degrees or find well-paying jobs as master chefs, welders at Bath Iron Works and other vocations. We believe that education, along with restorative justice programming, dramatically reduces juvenile recidivism.

A bill put forward by Rep. Michael Brennan calls for phasing out Long Creek and replacing it with two, much smaller secure facilities and for shifting resources to community-based diversion programming. Wherever they are located, we will continue to support incarcerated Maine youth – and those at risk of detention – with opportunities for positive change.

David Vickrey
president, Friends of Long Creek Youth Development Center
Cape Elizabeth

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