University of Maine School of Law

John T. Gorman Foundation renews support for Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic’s juvenile justice reform projects

The Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Maine School of Law was recently awarded a grant of $197,000 from the John T. Gorman Foundation. The grant will fund an additional two years of support for the Clinic’s juvenile justice reform work through the Juvenile Justice Clinic (JJC) and the newly established Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law (MCJPAL).

Established in 2017, the MCJPAL works with students, faculty, practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders to broaden efforts to connect practice and policy reform. Jill Ward, a nationally-recognized expert in juvenile justice reform, serves as Project Manager for MCJPAL. The MCJPAL is home to 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 with the goal to increase fairness in the juvenile justice system.

In the past year, MCJPAL has worked with partners from across the state to:

  • Develop resources and provide policy analysis on the juvenile records code.
  • Coordinate and deliver expert testimony on community-based alternatives to incarceration, juvenile record confidentiality, and broader justice system reform.
  • Advocate for policy and practice shown to have the best outcomes for youth and their communities.

In November 2017, MCJPAL partnered with USM’s Juvenile Justice Policy Program to co-host the Youth Justice in Maine: Imagining a New Future Summit, which brought together more than 100 national and local experts, juvenile justice practitioners, and youth voices. In January, the two organizations collaborated again to co-author, Youth Justice in Maine: Imagine a New Future – Summary & Recommendations. This report recommended next steps for creating a community-based continuum of care in Maine.

This funding from the Gorman Foundation also supports the work of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and its founder and faculty supervisor Professor Christopher Northrop.

Over the past year, the JJC has:

  • Helped clients seal their juvenile record.
  • Developed standard template pleadings for use by practitioners.
  • Distributed the information brochure, “Know the Facts: What it Means to Have a Juvenile Record in Maine.
  • Provided technical assistance and training to defenders working on appellate and other post-disposition advocacy for incarcerated youth.

“We are so thankful for continued support from the John T. Gorman Foundation,” said Professor Deirdre M. Smith, Director of the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic. “This additional, multi-year grant helps to solidify the Clinic’s role as the locus of juvenile justice reform efforts in the state.”