Gov. Dave Heineman today signed into law legislation aimed at improving the juvenile justice system. LB 561e shifts the supervision of all juvenile offenders in the community to the state's probation system which will reduce reliance on detention and focus on rehabilitation for youth while keeping families involved.
"This is a forward-looking and innovative approach to dealing with youth who break the law," said Gov. Heineman. "This bill represents an important step forward as we continue to find ways for the state to deal with youth in juvenile justice system. The focus at Health and Human Services should remain on helping children in the system who are victims of abuse and neglect. I applaud the leadership of Senator Brad Ashford on this issue."
LB 561 contains several points:
-Provides $14.5 million over the next two years for juvenile justice reform to ensure proper implantation and to encourage further development of juvenile justice services.
-Transfers the supervision of juvenile offenders in the community from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Office of Probation Administration in the Nebraska Supreme Court. This includes all juvenile offenders who have committed crimes and who are status offenders.
-Retains Health and Human Services control of the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers at Kearney and Geneva.
-Increase the juvenile services aid grant program to counties at the Crime Commission, and allows the Crime Commission to hire a Director of Juvenile Diversion and a Director of Community-based Juvenile Services to help coordinate juvenile justice diversion and juvenile services in Nebraska.
"By moving the juvenile justice youth into the probation system, Health and Human Services will be able to focus their attention more directly on assisting youth in the child welfare system, where children who are victims of abuse are cared for, instead of the youth breaking the law," Gov. Heineman added.
With the emergency clause, the bill will take effect the day after the Governor signs the bill into law.