LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s courts and office of probation administration say a report that is critical of what was called a lack of progress on juvenile justice reform is inaccurate.
The Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1SXSz6M ) reports state probation administrator Ellen Brokofsky spoke to the Nebraska Children’s Commission Tuesday about the courts’ response to Inspector General Julie Rogers’ report.
According to the report, the state’s courts did not follow state law on improving transparency and accountability in providing all case information to the inspector general’s office.
Brokofsky’s office says the report used assumptions and anecdotal information that was “not necessarily factual.”
An October memo from Deputy Administrator Jeanne Brandner and Assistant Deputy Kari Rumbaugh said the office was committed to reforming juvenile justice in the state. In the memo, which came during the development of a law that expanded the inspector general’s authority to juvenile justice, the probation office told Rogers that a court order would be required to release confidential case record information. The office offered to “facilitate” requests for release of information to individual courts to minimize the burden on Rogers, but the offer was refused.
Rogers says accepting the offer would have been inappropriate. According to Rogers, going through the courts made the inspector general’s confidential inquiries more visible and could have unduly influenced the process.
The inspector general says she understands that juvenile justice reform takes time and has some hope that a solution will be found for the issue of access to information. She says she has talked to an assistant deputy administrator about a new process for getting case information without court orders.
Brokofsky says the probation office became involved in juvenile reform because it saw many low-income children becoming wards of the state and knew it was a large undertaking.
“You do not take on 1,200 kids and 200 new staff in one year lightly,” she said.
Earlier this month, Omaha Sen. Bob Krist said he was drafting legislation to move the juvenile justice program out of the judiciary branch.