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State To House Juvenile Offenders At Lancaster County Youth Facility

Children and teenagers who break the law, whom the state currently sends to Kearney or Geneva, may stay in custody here in Lincoln from now on.

Lancaster County and the State signed an inter-local agreement Tuesday to begin housing youthful offenders in the Lancaster County Youth Services Center, just south of the State Penitentiary.

The County Board approved a contract, in which the state will rent a portion of the center for just under $400-thousand dollars a year.

“We’ll augment the current YRTC in Kearney and Geneva.  This will be a third location that will be used to continue serving the youth,” said Bo Botelho, General Counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Michelle Schindler of County Youth Services told commissioners that the new arrangement will cut down transportation costs.

“Most of the youth that are in Kearney and Geneva come through the Lancaster facility, not all, but most,” said Schindler.

Botelho also said the plan is to occupy the space quickly. “We’ll go in and make some modifications to the facility, to make it usable for our purposes.” Botelho said the facility will house youth with high acute needs.

The projected plan is to have the facility functional with juveniles in the unit by January 1st 2020.

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