- Youth in the Adult System — Older Youth Charged as Adults May Be Held in Juvenile Facilities, Rather than Adult Prisons: Maine passed legislation to allow youth convicted as adults who are between the ages of 18 and 26 to be held in juvenile facilities, rather than adult prisons. Such youth must be separated by sight and sound from the rest of the population at the juvenile facilities. The law was passed in order to serve older youth in a more rehabilitative way. The change also facilitated the closure of an adult facility and more efficient use of one of the state’s two juvenile facilities. S.P. 133/Act No. 28, signed into law and effective April 9, 2013.
- Probation, Parole, and Reentry — Youth with Deferred Dispositions May Be Given Conditional Release: Maine law now allows conditional release under the supervision of a community corrections officer as an option for youth with deferred dispositions. The law was enacted in an effort to help youth who are charged in the delinquency system keep their records clean/sealed. H.P. 1206/Act No. 480, signed into law and effective March 1, 2012.
- Competency — Law Provides for Evaluation of Juvenile Competency: Recognizing the urgent need for a means to assess juvenile competency, a new Maine law provides for an evaluation of competency in juvenile cases and allows for suspension of proceedings in order to conduct a competency evaluation. The law requires the State Forensic Examiner to address the youth’s capacity and ability to understand the allegations and proceedings and to effectively engage with counsel. Any statements made by the youth during the competency evaluation may not be used as evidence during an adjudicatory hearing. If the evaluation finds that there is no substantial probability that the youth will be competent in the foreseeable future, the juvenile court petition must be Dismissed or the adjudication vacated, and the youth must then be served through the Department of Health and Human Services, rather than the Division of Juvenile Services. H.P. 1039/L.D. 1413/Public Law 282, signed into law and effective June 9, 2011.
- Adjudication and Sentencing — Courts Gain Option of Deferred Disposition: Courts in Maine may now impose a deferred disposition in juvenile cases where a youth admits to committing a delinquent act. If the youth complies with the conditions of the deferred disposition, the court may impose an alternative disposition or dismiss the petition with prejudice, upon motion by the state’s attorney. S.P. 402/L.D. 1299/Public Law 384, signed into law June 20, 2011.
- Juvenile Defense and Court Process — State to Ensure Provision of Qualified Counsel and Adequate Funding for Indigent Legal Services: The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services is a new independent and permanent statutory commission whose purpose is to provide efficient high-quality representation to indigent criminal defendants, juvenile defendants, and children and parents in child protective cases. The commission must work to ensure the delivery of indigent legal services by qualified and competent counsel in a manner that is fair and consistent throughout the state, and to ensure adequate funding of a statewide system of indigent legal services free from conflicts of interest and undue political interference. The commission must also develop the statistics necessary to evaluate the quality and the cost-effectiveness of services provided. The commission has already promulgated rules for the selection of counsel to represent youth; the rules are designed to ensure a minimum of training for such counsel. Additionally, the commission has been active in providing education programs for counsel and drafting and supporting progressive juvenile justice legislation. S.P. 423/L.D. 1132/Public Law 419; signed into law and effective June 17, 2009.