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Neb. lawmakers propose juvenile system reforms

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013

Ashford said he thinks the proposed reforms would work given the successes of the state's juvenile pilot program introduced by lawmakers last year. The program has been tested in Omaha, North Platte and Scottsbluff and has allowed 80 percent of youth to seek treatment at home rather than being institutionalized.

The children who need to remain under supervision would be relocated to one of the states five county juvenile detention facilities, Ashford said. The counties currently don't have the funding to hold extra youth, so Ashford said money would need to be allocated.

Gov. Dave Heineman and the Department of Health and Human Services have not yet reviewed the bill and declined to comment.

For McGill, the bill is an extension of the promise she made to reform youth mental health services in 2008, after several parents dropped their older kids off at hospitals due to no age limit restrictions in the safe haven law. The Legislature later added a 30-day age limit.

Ashford added he's not sure he'd be addressing mental health reform if it weren't for the safe haven debate. McGill said the Legislature got sidetracked with foster care reform last year, and also said this bill is a response to the increased number of mass shootings.

"Now is the time to look back and say what can we do fulfill this promise? What can we do to in light of the increasing number of shootings that are happening in our country?" she said. "I don't think gun control is the primary solution. I think this is."