I am very pleased to see Patrick McCarthy’s recommendation to close the Long Creek Youth Development Center (“Commentary: New system must replace ineffective Long Creek youth prison,” Jan. 7).

For years the Maine Children’s Alliance advocated for integration of juvenile justice into the children’s services system for the same reasons McCarthy states today.

In 1976, Kevin Concannon issued a report making a very similar recommendation. At least three times since then, blue-ribbon commissions and task forces have made the same recommendation. Each time politics raised its ugly head and defeated these recommendations. Hopefully this time Maine will listen.
An integrated child and family system that includes juveniles can accomplish some wonderful things for children and their families. Among those things are:
• A system that is easily understood and accessible to all based on need.
• Reduced administrative costs by eliminating existing duplication in the current system.
• Two federal dollars for each state dollar spent on juveniles.
• An end to turf battles that hurt children and waste money.
Maine needs these young people to succeed. Allowing them to fail hurts our economy and costs us dearly in long-term institutional and healthcare costs.
Let’s do the smart thing this time.

Dean Crocker
Manchester and Estero, Florida

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