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Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court

Tribunal Metropolitano del Condado de Bernalillo

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Metro Court introduces new Specialty Court program that tackles root cause of crime


The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, with support from the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Law Offices of the Public Defender, the Private Defense Bar of New Mexico, local law enforcement and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.), is pleased to announce the launch of a new specialty court program designed to address substance use in our community and the criminal behavior it often leads to.

The Substance Abuse and Treatment Options Program (STOP) will operate as a track within Metro Court’s DWI Recovery Court and will serve offenders who have been charged with a non-violent, felony substance-use related crime in Bernalillo County, which has been pled down to a misdemeanor.  The program will focus primarily on individuals charged with auto theft. This is the first Specialty Court track in Metro Court that will specifically serve the felony population.

“We are confident that this program will work and will help prevent repeat offenses, especially those relating to auto theft,” said Chief Judge Edward L. Benavidez.  “STOP will follow the nationally-recognized Drug Court Model, which is proven to change behavior and reduce future criminal activity. We know that we are dealing with a high-risk population, but we are hopeful that these individuals will benefit from the same tools and treatment that have helped so many in our DWI Recovery Court, which in turn, will create a safer community.”    

The program is a minimum of 15 months, and each participant is required to complete a risk and needs assessment and a substance use assessment and/or mental health screening upon being accepted into the program.  Like the DWI Recovery Court, STOP will have five phases that will include requirements of; reporting to probation, random drug and alcohol testing, face-to-face interactions with the program judge, intensive outpatient treatment, weekly group therapy, participation in supplemental therapy (ie. meditation, Alcoholics Anonymous), integration of learned skills for sobriety and pro-social behaviors, and implementation of a thorough aftercare plan.  Each phase is designed to address an individual’s specific needs.

“As a community, we need to do everything we can to help nonviolent people with addiction issues.  This program is a step in taking low-risk offenders with drug addiction issues and rehabilitating them while making the community safer,” said Second Judicial District Attorney Raul Torrez.   

Participation in the program is voluntary, and those eligible to participate must be at least 18 years of age, have an identified treatment need or issue substantially related to the offense, not have a history of violent felony charges, and the current offense must not be of a violent nature.  

Funding for STOP comes from Metro Court’s General Fund and federal grants that were awarded to the court in 2016 and 2018 to enhance its DWI Recovery Court, Urban Native American Healing to Wellness Court and Community Veterans Court.  The grants provide participants in STOP access to Medication-Assisted Treatment, Trauma-Informed Care, Psychiatric Care, alcohol and GPS monitoring devices, increased lab verified drug testing and case management services. Treatment services will be provided by First Nations Community Healthsource, which also will provide participants a long-term care plan upon completion of the program.  

“I am pleased to know that there will be another tool in the judicial process to help offenders of substance-use related crimes,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III.  “Receiving treatment in an effort to end the cycle of repeat offenses is a proactive approach to reducing crime in Bernalillo County. I look forward to the results of this program and commend the restorative approach with non-profit organizations and government entities to better serve our community.”

STOP can accommodate a maximum of 30 participants at a given time and will be overseen by Judge Jill M. Martinez and Judge Kenny C. Montoya.

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