The Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law (MCJPAL) at the University of Maine School of Law was established in June 2017 with a grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation to support Juvenile Justice Clinic students and faculty in their policy work. Through on-going coordination of and collaboration with partners and stakeholders, the MCJPAL works to advance efforts to reduce harm to and increase positive outcomes for current and former system-involved Maine youth. In this coordinating role, the MCJPAL provides the platform for the Juvenile Justice Reform Work Group, a core group of juvenile justice professionals and advocates who work to identify and examine juvenile justice policies, programs, and practices designed to reduce inappropriate detention and confinement and increase fairness in the juvenile justice system. The MCJPAL is also the Maine member of the National Juvenile Justice Network.

Community Reintegration Collaboration

August 2021 – Over the past year, MCJPAL has partnered with the Place Matters Project at USM and the Maine Department of Corrections to support Regional Community Care Teams that come together to help individual system-involved youth and their families and to inform broader system change and investment in a community-based continuum of care. Juvenile Justice Clinic students and summer fellows have worked with MCJPAL to support this important work.

Legislative Update

August 2021 – In July, the first session of the 130th Legislature adjourned after having taken action on several youth justice bills and related reform. Read the summary.

Juvenile Justice Task Force and System Assessment

Augusta, MaineApril 2020 – New resource page on COVID-19 and Youth Justice is now posted on the Task Force website.

February 25, 2020 – The Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP), the organization tasked with conducting a statewide assessment of Maine’s juvenile justice system, presented its final report of findings and recommendations to the Maine Juvenile Justice Assessment and Reinvestment Task Force. Established last May, the Task Force was formed to work with the CCLP to examine the state’s juvenile justice system and to help inform recommendations for a continuum of community-based alternatives to incarceration for system-involved youth and those at risk for becoming involved in the justice system.  Chaired by Representative Brennan, Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty, and Jill Ward of the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law, the Task Force is comprised of government leaders from multiple agencies, legislators, the Judiciary, practitioners and impacted communities.  Learn more about the Task Force at:

Read the Final Report and Executive Summary. 

Greater Good Podcast

November 2019 – Professor Christopher Northrop, Jill Ward, and Jonathan Ruterbories were recently guests on the Greater Good Podcast to discuss juvenile justice and the treatment of children who come in conflict with the law. They also discussed how modern science about youth brain development is influencing juvenile law and policy and the critical factors that help produce positive outcomes for youth in crisis. You can listen to the two episodes below:

Place Matters: Aligning Investments in a Community-Based Continuum of Care for Maine Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

On March 6, 2019, MCJPAL and the University of Southern Maine’s Justice Policy Program released, Place Matters: Aligning Investments in a Community-Based Continuum of Care for Maine Youth Transitioning to Adulthood, which provides a continuum care model for Maine as well as several recommendations for policymakers. The report is the latest in this collaboration following the 2017 summit and 2018 report described below. Download the full report.

2019 Student Impact Summit

Juvenile Justice Reform: Restitution ReconsideredOn March 14, 2019, Whitney Lallas ’19 and Reginald Parson ’19 presented on their project, “Juvenile Justice Reform: Restitution Reconsidered,” during Maine Law’s annual Student Impact Summit. When determining a disposition for juveniles, the court has the option to order a juvenile to pay restitution. However, juveniles face a number of challenges that prevent them from satisfying their restitution obligation. In light of these challenges, a bill was submitted to the Maine Legislature, with the hopes of providing better outcomes for system-involved youth. A video of their presentation is available on Maine Law’s YouTube Channel.

There was also a panel on this topic at the 2019 Student Impact Summit. A video recording of the panel presentation is available on Maine Law’s YouTube channel.

Youth Justice in Maine: Imagining a New Future

On November 17, 2017, MCJPAL and the University of Southern Maine’s Justice Policy Program hosted a juvenile justice summit, Youth Justice in Maine: Imagining a New Future. This event convened more than 100 national and local experts, juvenile justice practitioners, and youth voices, all of whom are committed to improving youth justice in Maine. In January, the MCJPAL and Muskie’s Juvenile Justice Program released a summary of the summit with recommendations for next steps in reforming Maine’s juvenile justice system. Read the full report.

Juvenile Record Informational Brochure

Know the Facts - Juvenile Record In in Maine?Following up on the March 2017 release of Unsealed Fate: The Unintended Consequences of Inadequate Safeguarding of Juvenile Records in Maine, which found widespread misinformation about what it means to have a juvenile record in Maine, this new resource answers some of the most frequently asked questions. MCJPAL worked with members of the Juvenile Justice Reform Work Group, the Department of Corrections, the Juvenile Justice Program of the USM Muskie School of Public Service, and other key stakeholders to develop the resource. 

Download “Know the Facts: What does it mean to have a juvenile record in Maine?”

Learn More

To learn more about the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law, follow the MCJPAL on Facebook or subscribe to the Youth Justice in Maine monthly newsletter.


Jill Ward, Director