A justice on Maine’s highest court has decided not to order the release of a mentally incompetent 13-year-old boy from Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland.

Details of juvenile cases are often confidential, but this one landed in a public courtroom as the boy’s defense lawyer fought to get him out of the state’s only youth prison. A lower court judge found him not competent to stand trial in April, but he is still detained because he has not been able to get into a residential treatment program.

Justice Ellen Gorman on Monday denied his petition for habeas corpus, or a request for the court to determine if the boy’s detention is legal. She only briefly addressed the systematic shortcomings that were highlighted in a hearing last week.

“These efforts have been stymied by the systematic lack of adequate resources within the state of Maine for juveniles with mental illness and cognitive challenges, and by the roadblocks created by A.I.’s mother’s understandable reluctance to allow her child to be treated in a facility far from home and community,” Gorman wrote in her order, identifying the boy by his initials. He was not named in the filings.

“Nevertheless, these realities provide no ground for habeas corpus relief,” she wrote.

Defense attorney Sarah Branch said she respected the court’s order but was disappointed by it.

“If I don’t see a silver lining in things, I won’t sustain this work,” Branch said. “The silver lining, I hope, is that there won’t be another case like his, that by the time the next case comes around, we will have fixed this problem. And shame on us if we don’t.”

The Maine Attorney General’s Office represented the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health and Human Services at the hearing last week. A spokesman said in an email that the office did not have any comment on the case.

The boy’s record is not public because of his age. But Branch has said he has a history of detention at Long Creek starting when he was 11. He has never been adjudicated, which is the juvenile equivalent of convicted. He has been found not competent to proceed four times in the last two years.

In this case, the boy has been at Long Creek since December. It is not clear what charges he is facing. The only felony – assault on a police officer, a Class C crime – has been dismissed. Misdemeanor juvenile cases are confidential.

In April, a judge ruled he was not competent but could potentially stand trial in the future. He then ordered the state to treat his mental health and behavioral needs. Branch said the state has struggled to find a residential treatment program that will accept the boy, so he has remained at Long Creek.

She filed the habeas petition last month with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Those petitions go to a single justice for consideration, and Gorman heard those arguments Thursday at the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Branch argued that the boy’s continued detention will have negative effects on his mental health and violates his due process rights. The state’s attorneys argued that the boy has been rejected from multiple residential treatment programs and in-home service providers, and the law allows for him to be detained while officials work to find that right placement.

Officials testified that he received medication and frequent sessions with behavior health technicians at Long Creek. But they also said there is no specific program or facility for juveniles to regain competency. For adults, those programs are typically provided at the state’s Riverview Psychiatric Hospital, which does not accept minors.

But Gorman denied the petition because she said A.I. had other legal avenues to appeal, and because she agreed that state law and precedent allow his continued detention despite the competency order.

“Further, on the record presented, there is no evidence that the evaluation and treatment services that A.I. is receiving at Long Creek – when compared to what is required by the competency order – are so grossly insufficient as to render A.I.’s continued detention at Long Creek a violation of his right of due process,” Gorman wrote.

“I make no pronouncement, however, regarding whether the Department of Health and Human Services has satisfied the obligations imposed on it by the court’s competency order based on any other grounds than due process,” the justice added in a footnote.

Branch said A.I. has now been accepted to a residential treatment program, but is on a waiting list and will not get a bed for weeks or even months. She said she is still considering her next steps but wants to see legislative change.

“I do not regret litigating these issues because I think they certainly have brought them to people’s attention and certainly have made my client the focus of the parties,” Branch said. “But I am concerned that the hole through which my client has fallen still exists and goes unaddressed.”

The boy at the center of the case sat through hours of testimony about his needs and his detention last week, but Branch said he did not understand what is happening.

“He asked if he could go home at the end of the hearing,” she said. “He just does not fundamentally understand why he can’t go home.”

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