State lawmakers begin hearing bills aimed at transforming the state juvenile justice system.
They will receive guidance on the transition from Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr. Terry Lee, an assistant professor at the University of Washington.
Lee has been in Nebraska, gathering information and talking to a lot of Nebraskans about the juvenile justice system. He says he wants to gather more data and talk to more Nebraskans as part of the research he will use in consulting with state lawmakers.
Lee advocates a move away from incarceration to treatment; with a preference for what he calls evidence-based treatment.
“The type of evidence-based treatments I will be recommending have also been shown to be cost-effective,” Lee tells reporters during a news conference. “That’s another piece of this, that there’s a tremendous human and social costs to kids not getting the help they need and families not getting appropriate treatment.”
A few legislators say the issue has become critical, that Nebraska incarcerates too many juveniles. They point to the positive experience of other states that have gone away from locking up teen-age offenders to treatment, even treatment that could include the whole family.
The Judiciary Committee will be holding hearings the next two days on a number of juvenile justice bills.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:35]
AUDIO: Dr. Terry Lee with the University of Washington discusses juvenile issues. [5 min.]