NEBRASKA CITY – State probation is expected to bear the bulk of the expenses if a drug court is expanded to Otoe, Nemaha, Johnson, Pawnee and Richardson counties.
The counties are being asked to share the expense of $26,000, primarily for the salaries of the public defender and special drug court prosecutor, but Otoe County Attorney David Partsch said state probation will provide services.
Partsch: “So the state would have to approve this, obviously, and so would the court administrator’s office.”
If approved, the drug court will likely be located in Nemaha County. The sheriff’s office there would provide a deputy.
Partsch said the drug court provides many benefits to participants and their counties.
Partsch: “In the program, there is not just the sanctions that I talked about, but they give them rewards too. It’s kind of celebrating when, you know, they get a job. They just see there is more support for them in the community than they ever realized.”
Cost to counties is divided according to population. Since Otoe County has 36 percent of the five-county population, it’s cost would be about $10,000.
US Supreme Court Justice Mike Heavican recently reported that efforts to create a mental health court in Nebraska have stalled. Heavican said the state does not have the funds.
The cost to house someone in prison is about $38,600 per year compared to $2,800 for handling a person in problem-solving court.
Heavican said drug and mental health courts will also help relieve prison over-crowding.
Drug courts exist in all 12 of the state’s judicial districts.
Partsch the process for drug court begins with the defendant and the defense attorney.
If the defendant applies for the court, the application is reviewed first by the county attorney’s office. It may advance to a drug court team, which consists of the a coordinator, special drug court prosecutor, public defender, the judge and probation office.
Partsch said if the drug court is located in Auburn, defendants will have to make the travel commitment once a week.
He said he hopes there will be some public transportation available between Otoe and Nemaha counties.