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A closer look at Nebraska’s YRTCs



Every year, Nebraska’s courts send a number of serious and not-so-serious juvenile
offenders to the Youth Residential Treatment Centers (YRTCs) in Kearney and
Geneva. Like all placements and services ordered under Nebraska’s juvenile code,
the goal in placing youth at these institutions should be their rehabilitation. Both
YRTCs’ missions are consistent with this goal; they aim to provide services and
supports to young people so that they can go on to live productive and law-abiding
lives. However, as with many other juvenile services across the United States,
promises of quality services and rehabilitation are not always fulfilled.

Evidence is mounting nationally and in Nebraska that the YRTC model and other
large juvenile corrections institutions simply do not work. They have been described
as: “dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate.”

Data suggest Nebraska’s YRTCs are:

  • monopolizing available funding for juvenile justice,
  • serving the wrong children, and
  • inadequately providing for the needs of youth.

With over $17 million a year spent on our Youth Residential Treatment Centers, the
time has come for Nebraska to keep youth closer to home and invest our juvenile
justice dollars in truly rehabilitative and cost effective models.  To begin improving our juvenile justice system Nebraska should:

  1. Limit eligibility for placement at YRTCs;
  2. Invest in evidence-based practices at the community level; and
  3. Replace the YRTCs with small, community-based facilities for high-risk youth.

View/download the full issue brief:

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