Sagadahoc County this summer is launching a new Community Justice Hub for juvenile offenders as part of Restorative Justice Project Maine.

Established in 2005, the nonprofit Restorative Justice Project Maine works to promote change in communities, schools, institutions and the justice system.

According to the RJP Maine website, “Our responses to crime and wrongdoing seek renewal and safety for the community, support and healing for victims, and accountability and reintegration of the offender.”

The new Sagadahoc Community Justice Hub will be funded by a four-year grant from the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Byrne Center for Justice Innovation in rural areas. RJP Maine has partnered with the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service to gather and interpret data supporting the development of this hub, according to a May 2 press release.

“Starting this summer, we will be inviting community members to attend one of our listening circles, either in-person or online, to share their experiences and ideas about how to increase safety and a sense of belonging in Sagadahoc County,” the release states. “After that, we’ll be assembling a steering team of eight to 20 diverse representatives from the community who will work together over the course of a year to design the community justice hub, with support and education provided by Restorative Justice Project Maine.”

Catholic Deacon and Midcoast resident Tom Blatz has been appointed as the Sagadahoc Community Justice Hub and Harm Repair Manager.


Tom Blatz, Deacon of All Saints Parish in Brunswick, and Sagadahoc Community Justice Hub and Harm Repair Manager. Photo Contributed by Kathy Durgin-Leighton

“I am very excited to join the RJP team. Relationships are so important to building community. I look forward to bringing people together, to bring about change and help them through what begins as a difficult struggle, and ends in a positive way,” said Blatz.

Juveniles are often referred to RJP Maine by junior corrections officers, he said.  Offenders can take responsibility for their actions and potentially avoid court, incarceration, or the potential of being a repeat offender, he added.

The community circles will allow victims, offenders, and their supporters to be represented. Each person in the circle is asked a series of questions about how they felt when the crime happened, how it affected them, and what the harm repair agreement should be, said Blatz.

The harm repair agreement can be anything from community service to restitution, but all affected parties have to agree on it, he said.

At the end of 2021, RJP Maine reported working with 53 youths ages 10-17, from Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc County. The program directed 112 community circles consisting of shopkeepers, social workers, educators, members of faith communities, law enforcement, coaches, extended family, and the person who caused harm or was harmed.

Crimes that were committed ranged from shoplifting, vandalism, burglary, assault, possession of a firearm, arson, and theft.


According to the RJP Maine website, 92% of all participants said they felt the process was fair and would recommend it to others, and 90% of victims said the restorative justice process met their needs.

Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said his department doesn’t encounter many juvenile offenders outside of traffic violations but uses a supervised work program for those who commit theft or assault.

“We make them wash cars or clean up a local outdoor skate park, ” he said.

After completing the supervised work program, there usually aren’t any repeat offenders, said Merry.

Blatz said the ultimate goal of the hub is, “To repair relationships, to help resolve conflict in a positive way, and to keep anyone from being in that situation again.”

Comments are not available on this story.