Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation
Target Area: Prosecutorial District 6 - Population: 149,085
BCJI Awardee: Restorative Justice Project Maine
Research Partner: University of Southern Maine Justice Policy Program
Focus Areas: Rural Crime
BCJI Funding Year: FY2019
Prosecutorial District 6 includes Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc counties in midcoast Maine. Just over half of the 149,085 residents live in unincorporated areas or cities with populations smaller than 2,200. Across the four counties, there were 99 reported violent crimes and 1,552 reported property crimes in 2017. Populations experiencing consistent recidivism include justice-impacted adults; individuals released from the reentry center and 72-hour holds; youth aged 14-24 impacted by system involvement; youth released from the Long Creek Youth Development Center, the juvenile justice facility; individuals released from hospitals and other congregate care settings; females; families impacted by domestic violence and substance abuse; peer recovery community members; and children impacted by generational incarceration.
Inequality is a growing problem in the four counties, exacerbated by a lack of affordable housing. According to a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Maine renter would have to earn $18.73 an hour to be able to afford a standard two-bedroom apartment, but the average wage for a renter in Maine is $11.44 an hour. This leaves a gap of $7.29 an hour, the ninth largest gap in the United States. Poverty is also a determining factor in inequality, particularly in Knox and Waldo counties, especially in Knox and Waldo counties where poverty rates have been higher than Maine averages.
The vision for this project is to design an infrastructure that will increase belonging and safety using restorative philosophy and values that can decrease criminal justice system involvement in a rural setting. This place-based model and infrastructure is called Community Justice Centers (CJCs). These centers will promote belonging and safety through increased community connections built restoratively around the factors that drive crime in rural communities. In addition, CJCs will offer all community members the opportunity to use restorative practices to process harm and provide meaningful ways to build social cohesion.
Key milestones of the Planning Phase will include:
- Formalizing the project leadership
- Conduct asset mapping and gather initial qualitative and quantitative data
- Data analysis
- Draft the Action Plan
- Engage cross-sector collaborative partners as Advisory Partners
- Decide and prioritize the final project results, goals, and strategy populations
- Outline and initiate engagement with CJC Steering Teams
- Finalize the Action Plan
The CJC Steering Teams, with guidance from the Advisory Partners, will select strategies during the Implementation Phase centered around four goals:
- Reducing system involvement and diverting people to appropriate preventions, interventions, and care.
- Creating and employing protective factors and measuring their impact on belonging, connection, and social capital.
- Reducing harm and crime drivers through cross-sector collaboration (building and deepening connection to community and prosocial relationships; improving housing, income, treatment options, etc.).
- Tracking cost effectiveness.
Other Key Partners
Maine State Legislature, District Attorney's Office for Prosecutorial District 6, Midcoast Community Council, local sheriff's offices, Maine Department of Corrections, local county and town governments
This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.