Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Justice Policy


Violence Against Women Act Measuring Effectiveness Initiative

The VAWA MEI project is staffed by 20 full-time and part-time research assistants, analysts and associates, including attorneys, and others with significant frontline experience in providing services to or developing public policy for victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Learn more

Maine Statistical Analysis Center

The Maine Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) informs policy development and improvement of practice in Maine's criminal and juvenile justice systems. A partnership between the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service and the Maine Department of Corrections, SAC collaborates with numerous community-based and governmental agencies.  SAC conducts applied research, evaluates programs and new initiatives, and provides technical assistance, consultation and organizational development services. The Maine Statistical Analysis Center is funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and supported by the Justice Research Statistics Association. Learn more

Indian Health Service Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative

The Muskie School evaluates the Indian Health Service Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI) using a mixed methods approach to address the multiple phases and various objectives at the national and local level.  The evaluation methodology provides on-going feedback on project implementation and performance to ensure program improvement throughout the project period.

Evaluators examine progression through the project phases at each site through a process evaluation measuring the extent to which expectations are being met and the degree to which the program was implemented with fidelity and adapted to the target population. Program outcomes are evaluated by examining program providers’ performance to include implementation and adherence to policies and protocols as well as patient satisfaction. Learn more

Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG) Technical Assistance & Evaluation Project

The Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group awards grants to selected nonprofits through the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Formula Grant Program. The Muskie School is providing technical assistance, evaluation support and training to help nonprofit grantees increase their evaluation capacity. Learn more

Juvenile Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

With rapid increases in Maine's minority population concurrent with a federal change of standard from confinement to contact, Maine is now required to report data to determine the existence of disproportionate contact at multiple decision points in the juvenile justice system.  The Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG) is charged with ensuring that minority juveniles are not over represented in the juvenile justice system. The JJAG has hired the SAC to conduct phase I in DMC research – the identification phase. The SAC is developing a scheme to collect, analyze and report data on DMC in Maine and conducting a capacity assessment of the data collection systems and current practice of collecting DMC information. Learn more

Pre-trial Risk Assessment

In partnership with Two Bridges Regional Jail and Volunteers of America, the Justice Policy program at the Muskie School developed M.Risk, the first validated pre-trial risk assessment tool in the State of Maine. The classification instrument, designed to identify arrestees who are more likely to violate conditions of a release, addresses recent recommendations from the Maine State Legislature’s Corrections Alternative Advisory Committee to reduce the average length of the pre-trial defendant’s stay in jail and allow for better informed decision on bail conditions. The project was funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Learn more

Adult Offender Recidivism

This National Institute of Corrections (NIC) pilot program measured the recidivism rates of adult offenders on probation and post-supervision. Using Maine's new Corrections Information System (CORIS) the SAC retrieved information on Maine’s probation population and link arrests, criminal history records from the Maine Department of Public Safety (MDPS) to other important variables such as risk assessment scores, age and sentence length. The project supported Maine’s Department of Correction's (MDOC) strategic planning process and decision-making by enabling staff to monitor recidivist behavior and help identify effective management strategies. The NIC pilot also increased MDOC's capacity to identify systemic, state-wide offender trends and create a more robust data reporting system on offenders.

Women Offender Correctional Case Management

The WOCCM was designed to reduce repeat criminal behavior and improve well being among women involved with the criminal justice system. The Muskie School collaborated with the National Institute of Corrections and Dr. Marilyn Van Dieten of Orbis Partners, Inc to provide technical assistance, project management and analysis support to implement the model with both juvenile and adult female offenders in a rural context through this demonstration project.

Maine Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)

Juvenile Justice Implementation Council (JJIC)



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Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

2015 Maine Crime Victimization Survey Report

Findings for the 2015 Maine Crime Victimization Report, released on December 1, 2015, were discussed at a press release forum at the Muskie School of Public Service. This report highlights findings from telephone interviews conducted with 843 randomly selected Mainers on whether they had been a victim of criminal or unwanted behavior (e.g. violent crime, property crime, threats of violence, identity crime, and stalking) in the past 12 months. 

After the presentation a distinguished panel responded to the findings and offered comments.

2015 Disproportionate Contact: Youth of Color in Maine's Juvenile Justice System Report

A new report released by the Muskie School of Public Service reveals a racial bias towards minority youths in Maine's juvenile justice system.

"Disproportionate Contact: Youth of Color in Maine's Juvenile Justice System" examines racial disparities in the system and provides recommendations on how to move toward racial equity. Robyn Dumont, Erica King and George Shaler of the Muskie School's Justice Policy Program authored the mixed-method report.

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