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Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court

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Metro Court launches first court program in the state to target those at immediate risk of opioid overdose

July 18, 2023

Recognizing the need to have a meaningful impact on the fentanyl and overdose crisis plaguing our community, the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court announces the launch of the first court program in the state designed to prevent opioid overdose upon contact with the criminal justice system.

The Overdose Prevention, Treatment and Intervention “OPT-In” Court will connect newly arrested individuals at high risk of overdose with lifesaving resources and treatment before they are released from custody back into the community.

“Opt-In Court recognizes that there is a critical window in which we can intervene and help people engage with resources to assist them on their path to recovery. Our goal is to save lives by diverting individuals at high risk of overdose into treatment. We are hopeful that this approach will also reduce recidivism rates,” said Judge Claire A. McDaniel, who spearheaded and will preside over the local diversion program.

Inspired by the first Opioid Treatment Court out of Buffalo, New York, OPT-In Court is a collaborative effort among the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Law Offices of the Public Defender, the Private Defense Bar, and community providers.

“The landscape has shifted in regards to what we are seeing as underlying drivers of crime these days, and we too have to change our approach. With so many resources already in place, getting this program off the ground was a matter of making sure the right hand is talking with the left,” added Judge McDaniel. “We all have a stake in this.”

As part of the program, all individuals booked on felony charges in the Metropolitan Detention Center will undergo screening by court staff to determine overdose risk. If deemed at-risk, the OPT-In Court Team will quickly review to determine if the individual is a good fit for the program as agreed upon by the prosecution and defense. If accepted, the court will coordinate the release, transportation, and immediate placement of the individual into detox services or treatment.

The individual will also be required to:

  • Engage weekly in case management services throughout the duration of the 90 day program
  • Meet monthly for status conferences with Judge McDaniel
  • Participants may be referred for inpatient or outpatient detox as necessary and will have access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Upon successful completion of the program, the individual’s case will be dismissed with prejudice, and the individual will have continued access to the court’s case manager for long-term support or care.

The program will target felony cases initiated in the Metropolitan Court. Those charged with murder, manslaughter or sexual offenses will not be considered for the program. If the team determines that an individual needs additional time in the program beyond the court’s jurisdiction on the felony charges, the DA’s Office may amend the charge(s) to a misdemeanor.

At this time, funding for OPT-In Court comes from the court’s general fund through utilization of existing court staff and resources.