In September, the Maine Department of Corrections received two federal grants totaling $1.5 million to be used over the course of three years for incarcerated women and juveniles.
A $750,000 award by the Bureau of Justice Services, Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, will focus on the adult women’s services, in partnership with Maine’s branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Health Affiliates of Maine.
The work will support women in the DOC’s system with mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder.
Interventions are designed to improve well-being, reduce incidents of violence, increase prosocial behavior, decrease substance use, and improve self-actualization.
“The two awards demonstrate the DOC’s commitment to ensuring individuals involved in our system have opportunities for growth and redemption,” said DOC Commissioner Randall A. Liberty, in a news release. “Growth, be it by way of education, treatment, mentorship, skill building is a protective factor to reducing the likelihood of someone returning to our custody.”
In addition, formally incarcerated women will be trained through these community partnerships, as peer- support specialists to deliver supportive programming to currently incarcerated females.
The other award focused in the juvenile services division of the DOC by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention provides $775,775 over three years to strengthen rehabilitative supports for juveniles reentering Maine communities after a period of confinement.
Working with providers, including Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP) the work will focus on connecting youth with stable housing; post-secondary education; healthy and creditable adult mentors; and other reentry focused services to ensure that youth reentering from Maine’s justice system thrive during their journey into adulthood.
Another highlight of the work will be increasing access for youth with previous justice system involvement to be part of the Muskie School of Public Health, Justice Policy Program’s Opportunity Scholars Program.
“This award is another great opportunity to further build community-based alternatives to incarceration,” said Associate Commissioner of Juvenile Services Colin O’Neill.