A meeting scheduled this week by Corrections Commissioner Dr. Joseph Fitzpatrick to review LGBT policies, suicide prevention and other issues at the Long Creek Youth Development Center is being postponed.
The commissioner and others agreed to wait until after the Maine attorney general’s office completes an investigation into a recent suicide at the South Portland facility.
Fitzpatrick says he had originally invited more than two dozen local, regional and national experts to share their best advice for any improvements that could be made at Long Creek in the wake of a 16-year-old transgender teen’s suicide there. It was the first death of a youth in state custody in more than 20 years.
Fitzpatrick says he’s confident in his staff, their training and Long Creek’s protocols but he wants an objective, outside look.
“When we create policies and protocols we base it on national standards, so we reach beyond the state of Maine,” he says. “I’m pretty comfortable that when the groups come into the room, that we’re gonna be in a pretty good place. But, if there’s anything that we could do differently, if there’s any piece we missed or step we could take differently, I want to give them that opportunity.”
Fitzpatrick says he and others decided it would make more sense to wait until after the investigation is completed so that they can have a more open discussion. It’s unclear how long the investigation will take.
Among the groups who are invited are the ACLU of Maine and GLAD, an advocacy group for gays and lesbians.