Beginning with legislation passed in May 2013, the Nebraska Probation System has been charged with improving the opportunity for success for every juvenile and his or her family under the court’s jurisdiction. The legislation, designed to ensure a juvenile’s access to a comprehensive system of meaningful behavioral health treatment and other programs without requiring them to become a state ward, has given rise to an enormous restructuring of juvenile probation within the state.
The intent of the reform of Nebraska’s juvenile justice system is to treat and rehabilitate at-risk juveniles rather than to punish them. This new Juvenile Probation System will allow Nebraska to address current gaps in the system and create a continuum of care which includes comprehensive diversion services, mental health treatment, and reentry programming that is evidence-based.
Implementation of this new system will occur in several different stages. In coordination with judicial support, Nebraska Probation is devoted to the successful futures of juveniles and their families in Nebraska. Families will be empowered to be part of the decision-making process and assist them in becoming self-sufficient. Juveniles will be able to access needed services, without barriers, at all stages of the court process. This will include financial resources for services, both treatment and non-treatment.
Strong Support: Four Core Functions
The Administrative Office of Probation is committed to supporting Nebraska’s juveniles and their families through focus on four core functions. These four “Pillars” of Nebraska Juvenile Probation symbolize and support the necessary strategies needed to meet the goals of:
- Least Restrictive
- Behavior Change
- Safe Communities
- Evidence-Based Decision-Making
Nebraska Juvenile Probation believes a strong foundation is key to juvenile rehabilitation. As noted below, the foundation includes ensuring youth and families are informed and engaged at all stages of the system, culture and gender-specific supervision and services are incorporated, as well as collaboration with educational and placement providers to identify and address appropriately targeted juvenile needs.
Implementation Timeline: Three Phases
- July 1, 2013: All new commitments to the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers (YRTCs) in Kearney and Geneva re-entered on Intensive Supervision Probation Reentry programming. With this change, a juvenile placed at YRTC now has a judicial review prior to release from the facility, as well as a 60-day transition planning period. Additionally, language was added to the Juvenile Statute regarding detention to ensure a juvenile is not detained unless there is an immediate and urgent necessity for protection of the juvenile or others, or the juvenile is likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court.
- October 1, 2013: Authority for community supervision and evaluations were eliminated from the Office of Juvenile Services (OJS). Also, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is no longer a disposition for status offenders. All new juvenile cases are handled by Probation including:
- Pre-adjudicated and pre-disposition supervision
- Case management services
- April 1, 2014: All current DHHS/OJS cases will be transitioned to Probation with judicial approval. Full implementation will be completed by July 1, 2014.
Goal of Nebraska Juvenile Probation
Preventing juveniles from returning to the juvenile justice system or entering the criminal justice system by:
- Engaging juveniles and their families in the juvenile court process.
- Eliminating barriers for families accessing effective treatment and services.
- Partnering with educational and community stakeholders to assure coordinated case management, focused accountability, and improved outcomes.
Nebraska Juvenile Probation is a division of Nebraska Office of Probation Administration’s Juvenile Services Division.
- Huge Change in Nebraska's Juvenile Justice System is Underway Now (Omaha Daily Record, July 24, 2013)
Corey R. Steel, MAM
Office of Probation Administration
521 South 14th Rm 140
Lincoln, NE 68508