LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – About 10 community members connected to a Zoom court call on Tuesday afternoon. They are not waiting to find out whether they have been charged with a crime or whether they will be sentenced to prison. Instead, Judge Darla Ideus watches them for how they’re doing.
“How’s the treatment going,” Ideus asks. “How’s it going for you in general?” “
She is putting these questions to members of Lancaster County Court’s first-ever DUI tribunal, a problem-solving tribunal launched in July. It is open to people arrested for a third aggravated DUI or a fourth DUI, and serves as an alternative to jail or jail.
“First of all, the cost to the community is lower because you don’t have jail time and those costs,” County District Attorney Pat Condon said. “But it also brings them back into the community, with their families, with their work, to become active members of the community again. “
At the moment there are 19 participants, with a place for 20 in total in the program. Each week, they are required to attend a court hearing, answer diary questions, attend treatments and meetings as directed by probation staff, and submit blood alcohol tests up to twice a day.
“What we’re trying to do is deal with the addition to keep them from coming back into our DUI court,” Condon said.
To help in this effort, the court received a grant of $ 550,000, which the county council accepted on Tuesday morning. This grant will help provide additional services to participants.
“It will provide transportation assistance as they all have DUI transportation can be a challenge, it can provide safe and sober accommodation, continuing education for our team members,” said Dean Rohwer, court resolution coordinator problems.
It will also provide incentives to participants, pay for contracts with local treatment facilities, and allow courts to work with the UNL’s public policy office to evaluate the program.
Rohwer has said so far that they are having great success.
“People are rebuilding their lives, getting sober, going back to school, everyone in the program has a job now,” he said. “We managed to reunite the family members. “
Condon said that, as with any drug treatment, there have been relapses, but participants are held accountable. If they fail the field sobriety tests, they risk jail. They also cannot drive until they have been tested or have a locking ignition system installed in their car.
“It’s a way to keep the community safe and to help people fight drug addiction,” Condon said.
Lancaster County has two other problem-solving courts, one focused on drug offenses and the other on veterans mental health issues.
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