Nebraska Chief Justice Mike Heavican told state lawmakers today the courts will continue their work to improve, even in face of budget cuts.
Heavican, in the State of the Judiciary address before the Unicameral, stated new programs to help the nearly 18,000 Nebraskans on probation transition back into public life have paid off, reducing the recidivism rate of Nebraska probationers to 15%.
“Let me repeat that figure,” Heavican said. “The recidivism rate for all Nebraska adult probationers is approximately 15%. Fifteen percent is an extraordinarily good number based on adult probation national standards. Your investment in probation is paying off in both tax dollars and public safety,”
Heavican touted the work of specialty courts in reducing recidivism by concentrating on the needs of specific groups, such as veterans and felons suffering drug addiction as well as courts which provide extra supervision for those who have completed their sentences.
Heavican announced Nebraska will participate in a national study conducted to improve the juvenile justice system.
“Nebraska is one of just three states in the United States currently participating in a comprehensive juvenile probation system review by the Robert F. Kennedy Institute,” according to Heavican. “This review measures both the strengths and weaknesses of Nebraska’s juvenile justice system and will serve as a foundation for further improvements in that system.”
Heavican stated budget cuts won’t keep the courts from moving forward.
“Courts are committed to providing equality before the law,” Heavican said. “Mindful of the budget constraints of the last year and the likely budget constraints of the near future, the courts continue their dynamic pursuit of ways to do our job better.”
AUDIO: Nebraska Chief Justice Mike Heavican’s State of the Judiciary address [30 minutes]