Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Nebraska has two sections: how the code is construed (2010), and legislative intent (1999) for the juvenile justice system.  The clauses retain elements of the due process era, and phrases from the Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997) were also noted.  It meets criteria for BARJ as it mentions the opportunity for selected juveniles to take direct personal responsibility by reconciling with victims by agreement (restitution, community service) or non-judicial services, removing juveniles from the criminal justice system whenever possible, and reducing the possibility of their committing future law violations through the provision of social and rehabilitative services.  Another element assures capacity development for useful citizenship and to protect the public interest.  NE's clause also mentions compliance with the NE Indian Child Welfare Act, which is only mentioned in a few state purpose clauses.

NE ST §43-246, §43-402

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer.

In Nebraska, a county attorney, a county attorney representing multiple counties, or a city attorney with concurrence of governing bodies (DA) may establish (pilot) civil citation, mediation, and juvenile pretrial diversion programs. When police take temporary custody, youth may be released, taken to school, or released upon written promise of youth and parent or relative to appear before the court. When a summons is issued, the LEO must notify the DA and a court designee as court jurisdiction attaches. The LEO may issue a civil citation to appear at a juvenile assessment center within 72 hours and the DA is notified. Juveniles may be required to participate in community service, family counseling, urinalysis, substance abuse, mental health, or other services.  The LEO must contact the juvenile probation officer (JPO) for prior permission to detain a child in either secure or non-secure placement and a detention hearing is held within 24 hours.

Otherwise, when a complaint or petition is received by the court alleging a child is delinquent or in need of supervision, the county probation officer (JPO), after conducting a preliminary inquiry, may decide that court action is not needed, is needed but should be pursued informally with non-judicial supervision, or a petition should filed to initiate judicial intervention. If the JPO does not recommend filing the petition or placing the child under informal supervision, the JPO notifies the complainant about their right to ask the DA to review the decision. When a petition is recommended, the JPO submits the complaint to the DA who must sign it before it can be filed.

The DA can offer pre-trial diversion or mediation programs to divert prosecution at any time after LEO takes custody (arrest) at any time before adjudication. If a non-violent allegation, the DA can offer mediation to the juvenile and victim when the child, parent and victim agree. Initial sessions must occur within 30 days (though an extension can be granted) to develop a tentative plan of agreement with terms and conditions such as: community service, restitution, paying for mediation, reconciliation, etc. that the DA must approve. The DA can also offer pre-trial diversion programs in accordance with local plans when they exist. Diversion agreement conditions may include: apology letter, community service, curfew, school attendance, victim mediation, restitution, and service referrals and coordination for chemical dependency, individual, group, family counseling, victim restitution, community resources, education, etc. Upon successful completion, the petition (or charges) are dismissed. Otherwise, the matter must go before the court within 6 months of the initial filing for adjudication. The failure of the DA to make reasonable efforts to refer to community-based (non-placement) services can be a defense to adjudication for certain status offenses.

Pre-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

In Nebraska, pre-hearing diversions can be monitored for up to 6 months before the matter must go before the judge for 'reasonable' extensions.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

Restricted by legislature

Nebraska’s L.B. 482 (law, not yet codified) requires removal of restraints prior to court appearance unless the court makes a finding of probable cause of necessity (to prevent harm to self/others; history of disruptive courtroom behavior or (other) recent risky behavior; or flight risk) AND there is no less restrictive alternative. The juvenile’s attorney may be heard before the use of restraints. If restraints are ordered, (supporting) findings of fact must be written. Restraint definition includes electronic devices and straitjackets (among others).

Competency, 2015

Pending the adjudication of any juvenile case, Nebraska’s statute proscribes when the court may order an examination to aid the court in determining a juvenile’s competence to participate in proceedings. The statute does not specify what should be contained in the report, or criteria for consideration, and there are no procedures for judicial review after a finding of incompetency or other actions (whether competency is restored or not).

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015

Does not register

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Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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