A bill to expand a juvenile-justice pilot program throughout Nebraska has won first-round approval from lawmakers.
The expansion is part of a broader overhaul measure that lawmakers advanced on Tuesday, 29-0. It would build on a pilot program that focuses on community-based mental health treatment for juvenile offenders. The program is underway in Douglas, Lincoln and Scotts Bluff counties.
The lead sponsor, Sen. Brad Ashford, says the bill would continue to make use of Nebraska's two Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Kearney and Geneva. An earlier version of the bill had called for closing the two centers.
Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln says the bill represents a "sea change" in the way Nebraska has handled services for juveniles.