Spurwink Institute - Detention Review Specialist Initiative
Michael Higgins, CEO
60 Pineland Drive Suite 101
Lewiston Hall Bldg #4
New Gloucester, ME 04260
207-688-4573 ext. 116
The DRS position was created to assist the Cumberland County Jurisdictional
Team Planning group in achieving its goal of reducing the number and
length of stay of pre-adjudicated youth held in secure detention,
and to improve the justice process overall for youth and the community.
- While the DRS works directly with professionals in the County to
improve case processing and outcomes, and provides input on some specific
cases, the larger focus of the position is to: assist Cumberland
County in increasing its organizational capacity to work with youth;
- make better use of available resources;
- improve planning and coordination
of services; and
- promote collaboration and integration
of services from multiple sources and providers.
To that end, the DRS works to both expedite youth cases and advise
the Jurisdictional Team Planning group on opportunities for improved
Following is a brief summary of activities and outcomes over the
past 6 months.
- Expanding community stakeholder support: The Pre-Emptive Strike
Task Force meeting held earlier this year was designed to bring
to the juvenile justice table community providers who operate
within the periphery of the juvenile justice system. The intent
- to engage in a meaningful discourse about some
of the challenges and obstacles impacting the young
adults and their families who enter detention; brainstorming
about what we can offer as effective intervention and
- to share current research about the deleterious effects
of detention and solicit strengths-based systems of support
- Case Deconstruction: Working with Long Creek, JCCOs, Child
Protective Services, and CBHS, case deconstruction has given
us some new insight into opportunities and optional points of intervention
to influence outcomes. This provided the group with support for
the supposition that kids with low criminal behaviors but high
needs are better served outside of the juvenile justice system.
- Compiling a collection of books, articles, and research material
on the juvenile justice system.
- Suggested the implementation of regular case consultation between
the CBHS/DOV liaison and JCCO’s.
- Met with Supervisors and RCA’s from other regions to
interview them on their practices and protocols to compare and
contrast opportunities for Region 1.
- Developed trainings around the changes in the JCCO’s
practice – “Detention as a process not a placement” -
to be rolled out to community stakeholders.
- Identified the following barriers/obstacles impacting the detention
- kids being detained without a right to release;
in communication and expectations with families and child
protective involvement or oversight;
- JCCOs are expected to function
as case managers but are trained in the adult corrections
school” JCCOs vs. the “new guard”;
perception of the court system and community that the juvenile
justice system provides a “fast track” means
to access resources for kids and families AND that it may
be the best (or only) way to provide services to families;
- the expectation by
educators that the JCCOs have the best leverage to get
kids to comply with school requirements;
- detention is not
viewed as a “crisis situation”, on the contrary,
quite frequently kids in detention are left to “sit
and wait” for
a team to come together and are not prioritized;
- detention is
not always viewed as a “snapshot” moment
for kids and families leading to unacknowledged and inaccurate
judgments against kids and families.
- The Detention Review Specialist made the following recommendation
for changes to practice or development of resources:
- Peer Supervision
among the DOC hierarchy on a regularly scheduled basis
- Developing protocols for team meetings for kids in detention
- Changes in JCCO trainings to encourage earlier opportunities
- Development of a “Family Court” model
- Development of a “Community Safehouse
The detention review specialist has been working for approximately
eight months, and the first several months were by design dedicated
to fact finding and building relationships with professionals at work
in Region One. Already we are seeing reductions in the number of youth
in detention, length of time spent in detention, and in the speed
with which difficult and complex cases are identified and resolved.
The detention review specialist is just one factor in these changing
results, but the Jurisdictional Team Planning core group believes
she is a dynamic factor that will lead to lasting results.