Here in Nebraska, we know that the social and financial costs of the juvenile justice system are not insignificant. Incarceration rates in our state are the 4th highest in the country — and have been increasing while national rates have fallen. Nevertheless, promising steps forward have been made recently in the Legislature to better invest in the communities and services that are best positioned to prevent involvement with the juvenile justice system.
From a national perspective, the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is the most important piece of federal legislation for juvenile justice systems in all states. Although budget cuts have been made to the JJDPA in the last decade, it is an important source of funding for preventative standards and measures for juvenile justice systems across the country. In spite of the progress that has been observed in Nebraska and other states, the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved a $31 million cut to the JJDPA, bringing funds to just half of what they were in 2002.
While the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to issue its budget for the JJDPA, continuing to slash critical funding streams for the juvenile justice system threatens to set us back even further. Research has shown that investing in Nebraska kids and families by providing front-end solutions is the best way to ensure that all children have a chance to live the “good life.” Click here for more information about the JJDPA and to contact your U.S. Senator.