Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Justice Policy

Muskie co-hosts national conference on female offenders

On October 6-10, over 400 corrections professionals from across the country gathered in Portland, Maine, for the 15th Biannual Adult & Juvenile Female Offenders (AJFO) Conference, an event sponsored by the Association of Programs for Female Offenders and hosted by the Maine Department of Corrections and the USM Muskie School of Public Service.

AJFO, the only professional conference focused exclusively on women and girls involved with the justice system, provides a forum for practitioners, researchers, state administrators, program directors, and advocates to discuss the needs, management, and treatment of female offenders.

Erica KingErica King, policy associate at the Muskie School with extensive experience in research, evaluation, and training related to corrections systems, helped organize this year’s AJFO conference, which featured workshops and presentations on gender responsive programming, trauma-informed practices, and other issues surrounding women in prisons.


AJFO was featured in the Bangor Daily News article “Experts: Number of women in Maine prisons has grown sixfold since 2002” and the WCSH 6 News piece “‘Orange is the New Black’ author Piper Kerman.”

Learn more: Adult & Juvenile Female Offenders Conference website

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 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.

Learn More

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.

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