The Douglas County Young Adult Court is a judicially supervised program that provides a sentencing alternative for individuals between the ages of 16-22 who are charged with a non-violent felony to participate in a program of selective assessment and rehabilitative services administered by multidisciplinary agencies. A non-violent offense includes all theft and non-trafficking drug offenses. Judge W. Mark Ashford presides over the program.
In addition to Judge Ashford the Young Adult Court is staffed by Nebraska State Probation Officer/Young Adult Court Coordinator Bob Blanchard, Douglas County Corrections Day Reporting Center Reentry Case Manager Justine Wall and Douglas County Attorney Derek Vaughn.
Potential candidates for YAC are identified by their defense attorney who requests the County Attorney to review the case for possible screening by the YAC Team. If the County Attorney believes that the individual is a potential candidate, the defense attorney is notified and is asked to have the offender contact the YAC Coordinator for an interview. A Level of Service Inventory (LSI) interview is conducted and scored. A suitability report is then submitted by the YAC Coordinator to County Attorney Donald Kleine for approval or disapproval.
If the potential candidate is approved for YAC he first requirement for entrance into the Young Adult Court is that the offender must appear before Judge Ashford and enter a plea of guilty to their felony charge or charges. Judge Ashford then places the offender in the three phase program which includes the following key components:
Phase I - STABILIZATION - 60 to 180 days involving day reporting classes such as GED, Commitment for Change, HIV Education, Victim Impact, Parenting, Pre-Treatment, Recovery, Reactive Behavior, Domestic Violence, Job Readiness and Money Skills for Life. Chemical dependency evaluations, mental health screenings and counseling can also begin in this phase.
Phase II - TRANSITION – 120 to 240 days may involve participation in self help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, furthering of education, employment, electronic monitoring, transitional living, mentoring, victim offender mediation, and use of outside agencies such as ¾ way or ½ way houses...
Phase III - PROBATION - 12 to 24 months begins with the felony conviction withdrawn and reduced to a class I misdemeanor. Upon completion of Phase III a Graduation Ceremony is held and the individual is awarded a certificate of completion along with an order signed by Judge Ashford satisfactorily releasing them from probation.