What Are Nebraska Specialty Courts?
The Nebraska Problem Solving Courts are specialty courts in the state’s judicial system that utilize innovative court programs as an alternative to incarceration to help participants and their families thrive and make all communities in the state safer. The primary purpose of the Nebraska Problem Solving Courts is the reduction of recidivism. The Problem Solving Courts do this by fostering comprehensive and coordinated responses that use early intervention, appropriate treatment, intensive supervision, and consistent judicial oversight in their programs.
Problem Solving Courts in Nebraska can only be established with the approval of the state’s Supreme Court, and they are governed by the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Problem Solving Courts. Members of this committee include the court representatives, the legal community, probation officers, and law enforcement officers. All members of the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Problem Solving Courts serve at the Supreme Court’s pleasure.
The Nebraska Problem Solving Courts operate within the state’s District, County, and Separate Juvenile Courts. These courts offer post-plea or post-adjudicatory treatment programs designed for high-risk and high-need individuals with problems related to substance use and abuse, domestic violence, mental health, and re-entry into the community after a period of incarceration. Some of the programs offered by these courts include:
- Adult Drug and DUI Courts—These programs are designed to reduce recidivism and substance abuse amongst high-risk and high-need participants with substance abuse disorders. To do this, the Adult Drug and DUI Courts utilize a specialized team process that functions within the existing structure of the Nebraska courts and also performs intensive community supervision and interactions between its participants and a judge. These interactions are carried out in non-adversarial court hearings, through which the court verifies the participant’s compliance with all court-ordered terms of the program.
The goal of the Adult Drug and DUI Courts is to protect members of the public and also increase the chances of its participants’ successful rehabilitation. These goals are achieved through early and individualized behavioral health treatment, validated risk and need assessments, frequent and random chemical testing, incentives, sanctions, and other rehabilitative and ancillary services.
- Family Drug Treatment Courts—These are court dockets that primarily seek to identify cases involving child abuse, child neglect, and child dependency, where parental substance abuse plays a significant role. Family Drug Treatment Courts aid these parents to regain control of their lives by providing the necessary support and services required for them to become substance abstinent, while simultaneously providing safe, nurturing, and permanent homes, if necessary, for the children involved. This court’s goal is to promote long-term stabilized recovery for its participants and enhance the possibility of family reunification where possible.
- Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts—This court deals with juveniles that have been identified as having problems with alcohol or drugs. The participants in this program are typically juveniles involved in delinquency cases, although status offenders may also be referred to these courts sometimes. The Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts maintain close oversight of each participant in this program through regular status hearings.
Workers in these courts are usually representatives from treatment, juvenile justice, social and mental health services, school and vocational training programs, law enforcement, probation, and the legal community. The judge also plays an active role in this court and conducts regular meetings with the rest of these workers to determine the best way to address the issues that resulted in juveniles’ participation in the program.
- Young Adult Courts—This is a judicially supervised program that provides a sentencing alternative for youthful offenders (not more than 25 years old) that have been charged with a felony offense. Participants in this program must participate in the assessment and rehabilitative services administered by various disciplinary agencies. The program typically lasts for 18- 24 months. Its goal is to stabilize the participants’ lives through community supervision, substance use treatment, mental health assistance, education, employment, and frequent drug testing.
- Re-entry Courts—These are special programs designed for recently released high-risk and high-need individuals re-entering society on Post-Release Supervision. Programs are usually designed specifically for each participant, to reduce recidivism and ensure public safety. These courts use intensive community supervision and non-adversarial interactions to verify participants’ compliance with treatment and other court-ordered terms of participation.
- Mental Health Courts—These courts offer programs to improve the mental health outcomes of its participants, reduce recidivism, and reduce the length of incarceration amongst these participants where possible.
- Veterans Treatment Courts—In this Court, a team, including a judge, prosecutors and defense counsel, community supervision officers, law enforcement, treatment provider, Veterans Health Administration, and other key personnel, come together to design individualized programs for participants. Typically, individuals attended by this court must have served in the United States Armed Forces. These courts use trained Veteran Mentors who act as role models to the participants, providing guidance for them and helping them with re-entry and readjustment into civilian life. Veteran Treatment Courts aim to reduce recidivism amongst its participants through frequent alcohol and drug testing, close community supervision, non-adversarial judicial interactions, and close monitoring.
Queries related to the Nebraska Problem Solving Courts can be directed to the Problem Solving Court Director at:
521 S. 14th Street,
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: (402) 471–4415
Contact information for the various Problem Solving Courts in the Nebraska court system can be gotten below:
5th Judicial District Problem Solving Court
214 W. 6th Street
York, NE 68467
Phone: (402) 362–6540
(Serves Butler, Colfax, and Saunders Counties)
Central Nebraska Adult Drug Court No. 1
1512 Central Avenue