FALLS CITY – The expansion of drug courts in Richardson, Pawnee, Johnson, Nemaha and Otoe counties was proposed at a July meeting of Take Back Our Community in Falls City.
State Sen. Laura Ebke, chairman of the state Legislature’s Judicial Committee, attended the meeting and offered her insight into the effectiveness of drug courts.
She said people are selected for the court on a strict criteria and the judge holds conferences with probation, lawyers and law enforcement before the court begins.
Ebke: “And they talk about what they are seeing with these different probationer, the drug court members, and then they bring them in. They have court.”
At a court session she attended, there was applause for some of the members who have done well and a relaxation on restrictions, but others were told they are going back to jail for a few days.
Eblke: “Like with so many things, you need to be able to have some sort of immediate reward or punishment, if somebody messes up. I think drug court is a great way to try to keep people out of prison and to try and actually fix the core problem rather than sending them back where they are going to have problems.”
Deputy Richardson County Attorney Samantha Scheitel read a letter from District Judge Julie Smith and County Judge Curtis Maschman in support of a drug court to help break the addiction criminality cycle.
Scheitel said the probation system is doing an admirable job in Richardson County, but could use the help a drug court could provide.
Scheitel: “I think having a way to, I guess, get people on the right track rather than having this revolving door that we seem to have with people committing a drug crime and then not getting the proper help that they need and then we see them again, you know, months down the road because they weren’t given the proper supervision or direction.”
TBOC leader Bob Witte said use of illegal drugs seems to be at the root of theft and other crimes in Richardson County. He urged Sens. Ebke and Dan Watermeier to help expand the court to Richardson County.