Demand is growing for special courts that serve drug offenders, veterans and people with mental illnesses, but Nebraska’s top judge says state officials don’t have the resources needed to address it.

Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican touted the benefits of so-called problem-solving courts Thursday in his State of the Judiciary address to lawmakers.

Heavican says Nebraska’s problem-solving courts served 1,397 people in 2018, a 247 percent increase over the last decade. He says many people treated in those courts would otherwise be in prison, at a much greater cost to taxpayers.

Heavican says the judicial branch recently exhausted its resources allocated for problem-solving courts. He says counties want to establish mental health courts, but the courts can’t help because they don’t have enough money and judges available.