Community Veterans Court (C.V.C.)
The Mission of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Community Veterans Court is to enhance public safety by providing a judicially supervised program that addresses substance use and behavioral health disorders with the goal of returning veterans and service members to the community as healthy law abiding individuals.
Community Veterans Court Information
In 2012, Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, under the leadership of Judge Sandra Engel, partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Albuquerque VA Medical Center to implement a Veterans Program. Judge Engel assembled a team of criminal justice, treatment, and VA professionals that began meeting on a monthly basis to discuss Veteran defendants in Bernalillo County who were facing criminal charges or were struggling to meet their probation requirements. The team soon learned first-hand how partnering with the VA and Veteran community resources was necessary in the effort to break down barriers and improve the identification and meeting the specialized needs of Veterans.
The Community Veterans Court began admitting participants in May of 2016. The Honorable Felicia Blea-Rivera presides over this Court and leads a multidisciplinary team consisting of two probation officers, an assistant district attorney, a public defender, and the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator from the New Mexico Veterans Administration Health Care System. To be eligible, defendants must be veterans of military service from any era regardless of discharge status, in the National Guard, or in the Reserves. Additionally, they must have been charged with a misdemeanor in Bernalillo County and volunteer to join the Court. Treatment services for any substance use disorder or mental illness, such as PTSD, are obtained primarily from the Veterans Administration Hospital or local Veterans Clinic. Participants meet with the judge for status hearings one or more times per month, undergo frequent and random drug and alcohol testing, meet with an assigned probation officer, engage satisfactorily in treatment, and satisfy other conditions of the Court. Each participant is paired with a mentor, who is also a veteran. The unique camaraderie of the veterans group is a vital component in each participant’s recovery.
Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Program Manager Erica Grant at (505) 841-9858.