Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. Credit: Susan Sharon | Maine Public

A Maine attorney says her 13-year-old client is being illegally detained at Long Creek Youth Development Center.

Sarah Branch has petitioned the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in the case, arguing that the teen has been ordered to undergo mental and behavioral health treatment in order to gain competency to stand trial. Branch says the detention center is not the appropriate setting.

“My client struggles,” said Branch. “He has always struggled. And to expect a different result with incarceration, it seems cruel.”

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The 13-year old has been detained at Long Creek since December on charges that include assaulting an officer.

A new state task force is evaluating Maine’s juvenile justice system to identify alternatives to incarceration. Branch applauds these efforts, but says her client needs help immediately.

A spokesperson for Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on pending litigation, but said improving the juvenile justice system is a priority of Gov. Janet Mills’ administration.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.