The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court implemented the Domestic Violence Solutions Treatment Education Program (DVSTEP) in July of 2016. The program, formally known as the Domestic Violence Repeat Offender Program (DVROP), works to reduce the cycle of violence and recidivism among high-risk domestic violence offenders, while also providing treatment and counseling to victims and children.
The DVSTEP is a voluntary program in the respect that the defendant must want to participate before being referred for acceptance. The program is a 12-month, post-adjudication, pre-sentence program with four intensive phases. The defendant is moved through the phases based on program compliance and behavioral assessments. This program requires 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling, random drug and alcohol screening, and graduated sanctions for non-compliance, and on-going meetings with the probation officer. Additionally, this program may offer defendants an opportunity to earn a deferred sentence on a case-by-case basis as authorized by the program judge.
The DVSTEP team meets two times monthly for case reviews. These case reviews are designed to ensure a multi-disciplinary approach is being achieved for the defendant. The case reviews involve the program judge, contracted counselors, the court's court clinician, the probation officer, and the program supervisor. The program judge meets with each defendant monthly or more often if the phase requires.
The DVSTEP incorporates a unique aspect into the program by allocating funding for treatment for the victims and children of the domestic violence offenders entering the program.
The Honorable Rosemary Cosgrove-Aguilar presides over the DVSTEP program and has a regular docket as well. Her team includes a bi-lingual probation officer, a court clinician, a specialty court clerk, a program supervisor, and therapists from two contracted community agencies. Judge Cosgrove-Aguilar interacts with each defendant, per phase requirement in regard to their progress or non-compliance. Graduates of this program have a very low recidivism (re-offense) rate.
All DVSTEP participants are required to participate in random drug and alcohol screenings, must be proactively participating and cooperative in Family Court proceedings if necessary, maintain thirty–two hours per week of employment, and participate in full time education, a combination of both, or complete thirty–two hours of community service per week. Individual sessions with assigned counselors are also available to the participant.
One of the most effective aspects of DVSTEP is the staffing completed twice monthly. The entire DVSTEP team meets and reviews each participant’s case and discusses the on–going and evolving treatment plan. Following these staffings, Judge Cosgrove-Aguilar meets with each participant to discuss treatment goals and how best to achieve these goals. Upon completion of DVSTEP, the participant is sentenced. As sentencing is completed the participant is released from supervision and the case is closed.