The “rule of law” is defined as “the mechanism, process, institution, practice, or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a nonarbitrary form of government, and more generally prevents the arbitrary use of power.”

Over the past 10 years, Sarpy County has steadily increased its commitment to helping defendants experiencing mental illness through programs like Mental Health Diversion, Wellness Court, and a Jail Psychiatry Fellowship with UNMC.

So how does this relate to the “rule of law”?  The “rule of law” in its traditional, rigid application may lead to sameness but doesn’t necessarily lead to justice.  Further, a rigid application often ignores factors such as mental illness.

Sarpy County’s commitment to mental health is an acknowledgment there is a greater societal benefit when, under appropriate circumstances, an underlying mental health issue is addressed as an alternative to incarceration.  When we take this approach it’s a recognition that justice isn’t “one size fits all” and neither is the “rule of law.”

Bonnie N. Moore

Chief Deputy, Sarpy County Attorney’s Office


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