Blog: Nebraska

Global Youth Justice Launches 250 Youth Justice Web Sites; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

Almost 50 Percent Fewer Youth Arrested in Florida Schools; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Courts making strides in protecting children, vulnerable adults (Lincoln Journal Star)
    Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican thanked lawmakers for passing legislation last session to enhance the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project, which is designed to keep children involved in the juvenile justice system from becoming repeat offenders. The project aims to keep children from being jailed while they receive services or treatment.
  • Changes made in laws affecting youths (Midland Daily News)
    It’s been years in the making, but now some big changes have been made to laws pertaining to juveniles in court. “The predominant push is the idea that we need to have laws that are geared to juveniles,” Midland County Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen said. “Not use adult laws for juveniles.”
  • Almost 50 percent fewer youth arrested in Florida schools (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)
    The number of youth arrested in Florida’s public schools declined 48 percent in the past eight years, from more than 24,000 to 12,520, according to a study released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The decline corresponds with a downward trend in juvenile delinquency in all categories across the state.
  • Building their future: Youth offenders learn woodworking, life skills in lockup (Waco Tribune-Herald)
    In a small shop building at the state youth lockup in Mart, teenage boys who have gotten into trouble with the law are learning woodworking skills that officials hope can be put to good use for the community.
  • Best Of 2012: Juvenile Justice Desk (Youth Radio)
    In 2012, Youth Radio's Juvenile Justice Desk followed some major changes to youth sentencing in California and the nation.

What’s Next for Nebraska’s Juvenile Justice System?

On Thursday, December 6, nearly 250 Nebraskans gathered in Lincoln for Voices for Children’s first ever Juvenile Justice Summit. For the past 25 years, Voices for Children has been working to improve Nebraska’s juvenile justice system, but we know we haven’t gotten where we need to go for children and youth.
The juvenile justice summit was an opportunity for a range of stakeholders to begin a broader conversation about how Nebraska’s system functions and what changes need to be made so that youth in the juvenile justice system are put on a path towards a bright future.With the generous support of the Woods Charitable Fund, Boys Town, Douglas County’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, the Platte Institute, and the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association, participants heard from a number of national and local experts on juvenile justice reform.
So just where does Nebraska go from here? Experts shared some of their thoughts:

  1. Reducing Nebraska’s Reliance on Juvenile Incarceration: The United States is alone among developed nations in its frequent use of incarceration, which over time has proved to be costly, ineffective, and dangerous for youth. Nebraska currently incarcerates about 600 youth a year. Almost ¾ have never committed a violent offense. Bart Lubow of the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommended reducing the use of incarceration, which is better for youth and will free up resources for investment in other areas of the juvenile justice summit. [download his PPT presentation]
  2. Decreasing the Number of Filings in Adult Court: Nebraska is one of the few states in the nation that frequently processes nearly half of children and youth through adult court, where few rehabilitative opportunities are available. Dr. Anne Hobbs, director of the Juvenile Justice Institute, pointed out the links between adult court involvement and higher rates recidivism. [download her materials]
  3. Creating a System Consistent with the Needs of Children: Youth with involvement in Nebraska’s juvenile justice system shared their desire for more consistency, more contact and support from family and other significant adults in their lives, and more voice and choice in juvenile justice cases. Dr. Kayla Pope talked about the need to build trauma-informed juvenile justice systems acknowledging the mental health needs and histories of youth who come through its doors. [download her PPT presentation]
  4. Bolstering Community-Based Services: Many states rely on incarceration and detention because of a lack of community-based juvenile justice services. Betsy Clarke and Jim McCarter from Illinois shared the success of the Redeploy Illinois program in improving community safety, effectively serving youth, and saving state dollars. [download their PPT presentation] Jeanette Moll and Marc Levin presented a paper on Nebraska’s juvenile justice system that highlighted the need for greater County Aid dollars.