Press Release: DRM Issues Report Regarding the Use of Law Enforcement Intervention by Youth Residential Service Providers



CONTACT: Katrina Ringrose
207.319.8334 (C)    

August 9, 2017  

Disability Rights Maine Report Highlights Concerns Regarding the Use of Law Enforcement Intervention by Youth Residential Service Providers

AUGUSTA – Earlier today, Disability Rights Maine (DRM) released a report entitled Assessing the Use of Law Enforcement by Youth Residential Service Providers.  The report is available here:

Read the Report (PDF)

Read the Report (Word)

DRM began researching the use of law enforcement by youth residential service providers after a report by the Maine Department of Corrections found that as of July 2016, approximately one third of youth who were committed to Long Creek Youth Development Center came directly from residential mental health treatment programs.   

In addition to reports provided by the Maine Department of Health & Human Services, DRM reviewed records from 21 different municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies.  DRM’s analysis of this data found that over 13-month period (1/1/16 - 1/31/17), there were 815 documented calls to law enforcement from residential programs.  Many of the calls for support concerned events that were likely related to the disabilities of the youth.  10% of the calls were coded as “mental health/medical,” but many other calls would have been more appropriately placed into that category.  Over 75% of the calls were coded either as a “juvenile problem” or “runaway/missing”.  For many of these calls, law enforcement was often relied upon to address behaviors that merited a therapeutic response.  

DRM further found that the rates at which providers used law enforcement varied widely from provider to provider and even within programs run by the same provider.  Additionally, DRM found that providers were not consistently reporting calls to law enforcement to DHHS.  Although DHHS requires the reporting of calls to law enforcement by a residential facility as a dangerous event, 59% of the law enforcement records reviewed by DRM did not have a corresponding report to DHHS.  

“If providers find it necessary to call law enforcement to intervene with a youth in an intensive treatment setting, then we must start questioning whether the treatment being provided is effective.  Otherwise, we are criminalizing behavior for which youth are actively seeking treatment,” said DRM’s Katrina Ringrose, Children’s Advocate.  

Through its operation of multiple federal and state funded programs, DRM advocates for individuals with disabilities whose rights have been violated, who are at risk of abuse or neglect, or who have faced discrimination on the basis of their disability.  DRM seeks redress where rights concerns arise related to housing, education, physical access, rehabilitation, health care, community supports, and employment.  Additionally, DRM works toward public policy reform through training, outreach and systemic advocacy.