ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Peña wants to send more than a million dollars to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) for opioid treatment and recovery programming—that money is coming from a nationwide opioid settlement.

“[I] had the county approach me and ask me about utilizing some of this money for some of the people who have been recently incarcerated and use it for treatment while they’re in jail,” explained Peña. “We lack a lot of treatment options here in the city. I think we need to start somewhere.”

According to her resolution, more than half of incarcerated New Mexicans in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 returned to prison within three years, and substance abuse was the main driver. Peña is trying to help turn those numbers around.

The resolution directs the city to work with Bernalillo County to use the funds—$1.5 million dollars—towards new opioid treatment and recovery programs in the MDC and to use 30 percent of all future allocations towards this MDC program.

“It’s only a finite amount of money. It’s not that much money when you look at the big picture, so we really have to be good stewards of the money as we move forward to do what’s best in our community,” Peña stated, “This is a great opportunity, and there’s money available, and if we can help even a handful of people, we’ll be doing the right thing.”

The city is expected to receive settlement payments from the nationwide lawsuit for the next 18 years.

This measure has been deferred to the August 21 city council meeting.