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USM researchers earn national honors for ‘Unsealed Fate’ report on juvenile justice records

Image of Susy Hawes, Erica King, Mara Sanchez, and George Shaler

The Maine Statistical Analysis Center — part of USM's Muskie School of Public Service — earned honors from the 2017 National Forum on Criminal Justice for the center's recent, in-depth analysis of Maine's juvenile records system.

The report, titled "Unsealed Fate: The Unintended Consequences of Inadequate Safeguarding of Juvenile Records in Maine," was written by Susy Hawes, Erica King, Mara Sanchez, and George Shaler. Hawes is a research associate at Muskie's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy. Erica King is a policy associate at the Maine Justice Policy Center. Sanchez is a graduate assistant at the Muskie school, and Shaler is a senior research associate at the Cutler institute.

Their report was one of only four recognized at the forum, held in Long Beach, California.

A national panel of judges from the Justice Research and Statistics Association honored the Maine Statistical Analysis Center with this year's Douglas Yearwood National Publication Award for research/policy analysis reporting in the small SAC category, defined as those with fewer than five full-time staff.

The USM report detailed a juvenile records system that is inconsistent, misunderstood and often unintentionally punishes individuals long after their time in the system has ended.

"The 'Unsealed Fate' report is an excellent piece of policy analysis and demonstrates the importance of the Maine SAC's role in informing the discussion around protecting juvenile records," said Jeff Sedgwick, JRSA's executive director.

The report was commissioned by the John T. Gorman Foundation, the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation and the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG).

"I want to thank the many organizations and professionals that provided input on how the records of young people are maintained," Shaler said. " In addition, I want to acknowledge the many youth who shared their experiences with the authors. It was their accounts of how their records were handled that emphasized the significance of this issue."