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MAINE YOUTH JUSTICE CAMPAIGN

Portland Outright is a proud member of Maine Youth Justice (MYJ): a new campaign to end youth incarceration in the state and invest in a coordinated range of community based alternatives that can effectively respond to the needs of young people, support families, and lift up our communities. MYJ is a collaboration between Portland Outright and Maine Inside Out, with the fiscal sponsorship of Maine Initiatives. It is a campaign created by and for communities most directly impacted by mass incarceration.

The goal of Maine Youth Justice is to create safer and stronger communities by closing Long Creek and investing in a continuum of community-based alternatives to incarceration for youth where all of Maine’s young people can not only survive, but thrive. Our vision of youth justice builds on the strengths of individuals and community -- because it is designed by the very communities it serves.

The youth prison model is inhumane, ineffective and expensive. It is also unjust, as demonstrated by significant identity-based disparities. Youth of color represent an estimated 22% of the youth at Maine’s Long Creek Youth Development Center, nearly three times their representation in Maine’s youth population at large. LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming youth are also disproportionately system impacted in Maine, with 20-40% of Maine’s incarcerated youth population identifying as LGBTQ+, despite making up less than 10% of the US youth population generally.

This campaign answers the call from young people who are organizing, surviving and lifting each other up while behind bars to not only imagine, but create, this better future. It’s time for those in positions of power to listen to those most affected by the decisions made about public policy – and the tax dollars that follow. It’s time to create the future of youth justice, by investing public dollars in a continuum of community-based alternatives to incarceration for Maine’s young people.

Read the full Maine Youth Justice campaign launch announcement here.

For more information on Maine Youth Justice, visit maineyouthjustice.org