State audits Kearney YRTC

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) An audit of the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney, released Tuesday by the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, found that juvenile justice-related reforms made in the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions may have changed the population at YRTC Kearney.

The main audit question was whether there had been an increase in violent incidents at YRTC-Kearney after juvenile justice-related statutory changes were made in 2013 and 2014. Taken together, audit findings show that violent infractions increased from fiscal
year 2015 to fiscal year 2016, the first year these changes were in effect.

Although it is not possible to prove that the legislative changes caused these increases, the timing suggests
that they may have played a role. Despite the increased numbers of violent incidents immediately following the statutory changes, from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2018, there was a decrease in the number of staff assaults as well as total assaults at YRTC-Kearney. In their response to the audit, YRTC-Kearney administration credit this decrease to changes made in safety and security at the facility.

The audit also examined staffing at YRTC-K and found that while the facility was meeting federally-mandated staff-to-youth ratios, a significant amount of staff overtime was utilized to do so. The facility’s response to the audit report, however, stated that staffing has improved: there has been an increase from 40 youth security staff in June 2016 to 70 in September 2018.

Sen. John Kuehn, chairman of the Performance Audit Committee said, “While the Performance Audit Committee is encouraged by the fact that staff assaults have decreased over the last three fiscal years, we’re committed to working with the appropriate legislative committees to address the audit’s findings to ensure that safety and staffing continue to improve at YRTC-Kearney.”