The District Court in San Miguel County has set up a pilot adult drug court, which officials say is a major step toward effectively addressing the local drug problem.
The Fourth Judicial District drug court seeks to provide treatment and rehabilitation of offenders with substance abuse problems.
Drug courts use the power of the criminal justice system to achieve abstinence from narcotics and alter criminal behavior through a combination of judicial supervision, intensive treatment, ongoing drug testing, incentives, sanctions, drug court hearings and case management, according to a press release.
Drug courts strive to reduce repeat offenders, create options within the criminal justice system to tailor effective and appropriate responses to participants with substance abuse problems, and to rehabilitate participants, the release states. The adult program handles cases involving drug-using non-violent offenders, including these types of cases: probation violation, conviction-drug offense, post-adjudication, deferred prosecution (pre-adjudication) and post-indictment information.
The adult drug court program provides a structured and a supportive environment where adults are taught concepts, principles and skills that enable them to make lifestyles changes, graduate from the program, remain drug-free and most importantly, become contributing members of our community, the press release states.
The program consists of a minimum of eight months of treatment services. The pilot program was designed to serve five clients; however, the program is now serving eight. The District Court hopes to have a full-blown adult drug court program as early as this July to provide services for 15 to 20 participants, pending the outcome of the court’s funding request this legislative session. In the future, the program hopes to expand services to Guadalupe County, the press release states.
The mission of the adult drug court is to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, including related criminal activity, by providing a well-coordinated multi-disciplinary approach involving judicial intervention, treatment, education, and intensive supervision for adult offenders; and promote the development of a drug-and alcohol-free lifestyle by building pro-social and supportive relationships with family, peers and community, the release states.
Because the problem of drugs and crime is too vast for a single agency to address alone, drug courts rely upon daily communications and cooperation of the drug court judge, drug court coordinator, treatment provider, the district attorney’s office, defense attorneys, adult probation officers, and the Las Vegas Police Department, San Miguel and Mora County sheriffs, and the state police, according to the release.
Team members are responsible for deciding policies and procedures regarding all aspects of the adult drug court.
The drug court team meets on a bi-weekly basis; during this time, members will be the final screening body for applicants into drug court. The bi-weekly meetings consist of updates of all clients in the program and final screening of new participants. This team of agencies is devoted to helping people who have trouble helping themselves.
The adult drug court is presided over by District Judge Abigail Aragon. The judge serves as the ultimate decision-making authority of their drug court and performs a variety of functions that may include presiding over the screening process and case staffings; presiding over judicial reviews; imposing sanctions and awarding incentives; and chairing the advisory committee.
National research shows that clients who graduate from an adult drug court program reduce the likelihood of the clients’ further involvement in the criminal justice system, according to the press release.