The number of civil collection filings and small claims filings also continued to drop from 2010 to 2011, though the number of cases involving divorce and protective orders are still steadily increasing. The number of filings for protective orders has gone up by 35 percent, from 2002 to 2011. Dickson credited a variety of factors for the overall drop in criminal and civil cases since 2008, when nearly 2 million cases were filed. Among them, he said, was the increasing cost of civil litigation and attorney fees; the increase in dispute-resolution programs aimed at keeping people out of the courts; and an increase in diversion programs that allow traffic violators and some low-level offenders to avoid criminal charges.
“Strenuous efforts in alternative dispute resolution and mediation are, we think, reaping effects where people are taking responsibilities for settling their own disputes and maintaining control of their lives a little bit better than happens when a matter goes into litigation,” Dickson said.
One area that’s seen a major increase, according to the report: the cost of probation services borne by counties. The cost of providing probation services, which include drug and substance abuse treatment programs, community-based supervision of offenders, and other efforts aimed at keeping offenders out of prison, was up to nearly $90 million in 2011 – an increase of more than $20 million since 2007.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com.