Limitations on juvenile confinement amended, advanced

The Legislature amended and advanced a bill from select file Jan. 24 that would restrict the use of room confinement for juveniles.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist28' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks'>Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks</a>
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

LB230, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, would prohibit correctional facilities from placing juveniles in room confinement as a result of disciplinary sanctions, staff shortages or retaliation by staff members.

The bill specifies that room confinement could be used only after all other less-restrictive alternatives have been exhausted and the juvenile poses a serious and immediate security threat to themselves or others. The length of confinement would be restricted to the minimum amount of time needed to resolve any such threat while not harming the mental or physical health of the juvenile.

Pansing Brooks offered an amendment on select file, adopted 33-0, that removed county jails from the list of facilities that would be subject to the bill’s provisions. She said the original language created confusion because it referred to county jails that house people under the age of majority—19 in Nebraska—but the rest of LB230 refers specifically to juveniles, who are defined as youth under 18.

Confined individuals would continue to have regular access to medical and mental health treatment, meals, contact with parents and legal guardians, legal assistance and educational programming. Monitoring of confined individuals may be accomplished through regular in-person visits, supplemented by electronic video monitoring.

Notice to an offender’s parents or guardians and attorney of placement in room confinement would be required within one business day.

Following adoption of the Pansing Brooks amendment, senators advanced the bill to final reading by voice vote.

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