Children need our care and protection to grow, thrive, and become productive members of our society. When a young person breaks the law, we must respond in a thoughtful way that gives children their best possible chance at success, while still ensuring the safety of our communities.
Unfortunately, Nebraska has one of the highest rates of treating youth like adults in the entire country. In 2011, the cases of over 4,000 Nebraska children were filed in adult court. A little less than one-fifth were transferred back to juvenile court.
LB 464 establishes juvenile court as the court of origin for all cases involving children and youth. Voices for Children in Nebraska supports this approach to young people in trouble with the law for number of reasons:
- Children and youth do best when they access developmentally-appropriate services quickly. Over the past decade, an increasing amount of research has confirmed what we already know: that youth are different than adults. Studies have shown that youth have poor impulse control, are more susceptible to peer pressure, and are incapable of weighing long-term consequences. The juvenile court was established to ensure children and youth have access to services that recognize their unique needs. Treatment is not offered in adult court, where the focus is placed on punishment instead of rehabilitation. LB 464 will ensure that children have access to what they need in a timely fashion to grow into healthy, productive adults.
- Involvement in adult court harms children and public safety. Research consistently indicates that treating children as adults neither acts as a deterrent, nor does it prevent crime or reduce violence. Involvement in adult court exposes youth to more risks, delays or prevents treatment and other needed services, and often burdens them with permanent records which act as barriers to their future education and employment opportunities. Studies have also clearly demonstrated that youth who enter the adult court system are more likely to commit crimes again, especially violent crimes.
LB 464 will ensure that our treatment of youth is appropriate, efficient, and effective. It will increase community safety and better allow our court system to put youth on a path towards future success. We urge you to advance this bill for the good of our children and our state.
 Kids Count In Nebraska 2012 Report. Data provided by JUSTICE, Administrative Office of the Courts.
 Effects on Violence of Laws and Policies Facilitating the Transfer of Youth from the Juvenile to the Adult Justice System: A Report on Recommendations of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR 2007; 56 (No. RR-9); Richard E. Redding, Juvenile transfer laws: An effective deterrent to delinquency? (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) (June 2010).