Albuquerque, N.M. (KRQE) - New numbers show a local program aimed at fighting back against repeat DWI offenders is seeing a lot of success.
Formerly known as Drug Court, the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court “DWI Recovery Court Program” is changing the lives of many.
That includes one Albuquerque woman, whose life has been a roller coaster of relapsing.
“I never thought that I would be up here,” said Elyse Eversol.
Eversol had hit rock bottom.
“Every parent’s fear is losing their child. We felt like we were losing her bit by bit,” said Eversol’s mother.
She was going through a revolving door of detox centers, rehab and jail. Each time, Eversol said she would relapse.
“I wanted to get clean but I didn’t know how,” said Eversol.
That was until Judge Edward Benavidez called her into his chambers before her sentencing hearing.
“The worst part of my job is having to put people in jail,” said Judge Benavidez.
Instead, he offered her the chance to go through the DWI Recovery Court program.
“This is where my recovery started because I had to… I had to get clean,” said Eversol.
Like dozens of others who have graduated from the program, it took Eversol about 17 months to graduate.
The program includes attending AA meetings, meeting with probation officers and accumulating credits to move on to the next phase.
“My 12-step program, that’s more important to me than anything else,” said Eversol.
It is a rigorous process, with new stats showing the program is working.
Since Judge Benavidez took over the program in 2015, the recidivism rate has dropped from 6.5 percent to 5.4 percent.
“DWI is obviously a huge issue. It impacts all of the citizens here in Bernalillo County. This program really does something to fight back against repeat DWI offenders,” said Judge Benavidez.
That means fewer repeat offenders on our streets and in our jails.
It is also helping families build better relationships with the loved ones they nearly lost to addiction.
“It felt like when you uncover a masterpiece that had been defaced and the veneer of addiction is lifted. We started to see the old Elyse and even more so a new and improved Elyse,” said Eversol’s mother.
From July to December 2017, the program’s graduation rate was 80 percent. Out of that group, nearly all of them went on to get a job.
The DWI Recovery Court program not only saves lives, it’s saving taxpayers money as well.
It currently costs $126 to house an inmate per day. The recovery court is only $12 a day.