State Sen. Les Seiler of Hastings and the Nebraska Legislature's Judiciary Committee have made the juvenile justice system their priority for this legislative session.
The state of Nebraska incarcerates about 4,000 juveniles each year, earning the state a ranking of fourth nationally on a per population basis.
"I think the problem is that it's been a throwaway institution," Seiler said of the juvenile system Saturday. "They get picked up. The judge says, 'Send them to Kearney or Geneva and forget about them.' We're going to change that. We're going to change that completely."
Seiler shared that information and more staggering statistics with a group of about 25 constituents Saturday during Coffee with Sen. Seiler hosted by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and the Adams County Farm Bureau Federation.
The Judiciary Committee, of which Seiler is a member, heard a bill early in the session from Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha on a proposal to close the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Geneva and Kearney.