Pressure : 29.87 in
Dewpoint : 57.9 °
Wind : South
Changing our juvenile justice system
The Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney has been getting a lot of attention lately. From fights among residents to a group of kids throwing furniture, one Nebraska legislator says the YRTC isn't cutting it.
A new bill aims at closing the facility as well as the girls one in Geneva.
The rate of incarcerated youth in Nebraska is on the rise. It's a troubling statistic considering all but five other states have seen a decrease over the past 15 years.
Omaha Senator Brad Ashford is proposing a bill that would increase community based programs and eventually shut down both youth centers.
"Senator Ashford's bill is going in the right direction," said Bill Williams.
Williams, co-founder of Compass, focuses his efforts on exactly what Senator Ashford wants: at home, community based treatment.
But, he doesn't support Ashford's bill.
"More kids need to be cared for in their home communities. I don't think that that means we want to shut down all the services for those youth that need it," said Williams.
Williams works directly with at-risk youth. And his concern is eliminating services rather than expanding them.
YRTC administrators agree.
"We believe we provide a quality service for the youth from across the state," said Kearney YRTC Facility Admin Jana Peterson.
Opponents of facilities like YRTC say kids should get specialized care from home. But, of the 148 boys at the YRTC in Kearney today, most of them have had other chances.
YRTC brings them into a focused community. They live, eat and go to school on campus.
"We work with the youth. The youth get a chance to really evaluate their whole life."
Both Williams and Peterson say YRTC isn't the perfect solution for everyone.
But, for some kids it's a necessary step towards improvement.
"Everybody wants what's best for the youth."
In Kearney, Lauren Conley, News 5.
A hearing on the bill was held yesterday in Lincoln.
The bill proposes re-allocating the 20 million dollars a year that YRTC receives.
Instead, spending it on community based treatment.
KHASTV on Facebook