While the AA faithful continue to deny that most of their prospects come from the court system, New Mexico has a court funneling system that assure that they do and upwards of 5,000 prospects can enter the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) by being mandated in any given year in in Bernalillo County alone. Using the usual loophole that it is voluntary, the only other option in incarceration. A quick look at the lawyers for DUI/DWI in New Mexico verifies that AA and NA appears to be pushed heavily and if you don't choose that program the jails sentences may be extreme.
Each year in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, more than 5,000 motorists are arrested for impaired driving. Because the City of Albuquerque is located in Bernalillo County, it is New Mexico's most densely populated county. And although there have been significant changes in the laws regarding impaired driving in New Mexico, 42 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes statewide are alcohol-related. Motorists driving under the influence of illegal drugs also constitute a significant problem in New Mexico. In fact, of 950 blood samples from DWI suspects tested by the county's Scientific Laboratory Division in 1997, more than half tested positive for drugs as well as alcohol.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
To help reduce recidivism among adult DWI/Drug offenders in Bernalillo County, the Bernalillo County Metro Court developed the DWI/Drug Court Program. The program uses a multi-faceted approach whose objectives include:
Intense supervision by a DWI/Drug Court probation officer
Mandatory alcohol/drug treatment for offenders
Random drug testing
Frequent appearances before the DWI/Drug Court Judge
STRATEGIES AND ACTIVITIES
In New Mexico, a Metropolitan Court has the same jurisdiction as a combined magistrate and municipal court. The Bernalillo County Metro Court organized the DWI/Drug Court Program to reach offenders at different stages of substance abuse. A minimum of nine months is required for a participant to complete all aspects of the program. Primary program activities include:
Scheduled meetings with a probation officer
Substance abuse counseling and/or group sessions
Random urinalysis and breath testing
DWI/Drug court appearances
Attending Victim Impact Panels and substance abuse 12-step meetings
Completing assigned community service activities
The final program component is After Care, lasting a minimum of 12 weeks. Mandatory elements of After Care include:
Meeting weekly with a volunteer probation officer
Attending one counseling session each week
Regular attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous
Ongoing random urine drug screens and breathalyser testing
The DWI/Drug Court Program is voluntary, however, once an offender agrees to participate, non-compliance with any aspect of the program will result in several different sanctions, including jail time, loss of program points, increased treatment services, or having to repeat all program activities. Each participant receives a handbook outlining program requirements, and explaining the point system used by the court. A reward system is used for participants who pay all fees on time, have consistently negative urinalysis results and successfully complete each program activity. Reward incentives include reducing the terms of supervision and the frequency of contacts with probation officers, certificates and mementos. After successfully completing all facets of the program, participants are eligible for a mentor/sponsorship program. The majority of program participants are employed males, with a high school education or higher. The program helps provide the intense supervision and treatment services necessary to successfully treat substance abuse.
Since its inception, more than 400 impaired driving offenders have participated in the DWI/Drug Court Program. A total of 250 have successfully completed all program activities. The program maintains a retention rate of 70 percent.
The DWI/Drug Court Program has achieved a recidivism rate of 9.6 percent for impaired driving offenders in Bernalillo County.