Lawmakers alarmed by Nebraska youth center troubles

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GENEVA, Neb. (AP) -- Some Nebraska lawmakers are expressing alarm with conditions at a southeastern Nebraska youth detention center for girls.

The concern comes as Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services CEO Dannette Smith ordered two buildings closed this week at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva, which houses female offenders ages 14 to 18. Most of the girls were moved to two other buildings, and four were moved into a Kearney center for juvenile males.

State Sen. Pansing Brooks, of Lincoln, was one of four state lawmakers to make an unannounced visit to the center Friday. Pansing told the Lincoln Journal Star that some girls had been in solitary for five days at a time in rooms that had no working lights. She said one girl didn't have a mattress, just a wooden platform.

Omaha state Sen. Sara Howard told the Omaha World-Herald the girls complained that broken sprinkler heads in one building had caused extensive water damage, mildew and mold.