Testimony by Second Chance President Joy Westrum before the …
Updated: Tuesday, 18 Nov 2008, 12:37 AM MST
Published : Tuesday, 18 Nov 2008, 12:34 AM MST
SANTA FE (KRQE) - A report presented to a legislative committee Monday suggests an Albuquerque drug-treatment program seeking more state money may not be as good as it claimed.
Dr. Paul Guerin, who has been studying the program based on the teachings of the founder of Scientology, reported it does not have the success rate it has pointed to in the past. He delivered the results of his study in testimony to the Legislatures Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee meeting in Santa Fe.
About 150 inmates and addicts have tried to recover at the Second Chance Center since it opened in the former West Side Detention Facility more than two years ago.
The convicts undergo sauna and vitamin therapy to cure them of their addiction. The program brings graduates to testify about their success to lawmakers every chance it gets.
"The sauna was very powerful," one said in an interview outside the committee hearing. "It made me a new man."
"I have hope," said a second.
"Getting my life together," a third added.
But now a study by the University of New Mexico Institute for Social Research has found the better than 90 percent success rate claimed for prisoners who spent even a week in the program in Mexico is not true for graduates in New Mexico.
Within 100 days of graduation 8.6 percent of them committed new crimes and 22.9 percent violated probation, according to the study. However a Second Chance official denied there was any attempt to mislead the legislators.
"Actually we didn't come up with that rate," Second Chance President Joy Westrum told KRQE News 13. "The University Autonomous Mexico did.
"Actually we didn't tell that we would do that here. We were merely reporting a scientific fact."
Actually the scientific community didn't accept that study. And Guerin told lawmakers more time and taxpayer money would be needed to determine if Second Chance works.
"In limited budgets that we have we should fund things that we know are more effective," he said.
Despite his testimony all lawmakers who spoke at the committee hearing gave more weight to the anecdotal evidence than the science.
"It does work," Rep. Thomas Anderson, R-Albuquerque, said. "Maybe I can't demonstrate it with numbers and scientific data."
There is much more to the report and much more to Second Chance's defense of the program (see Second Chance Web Extras on this page).
Taxpayers have so far paid about $1.5 million for Second Chance. It plans to ask the legislature for more next year.