ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two years ago, Adrian Concini says he couldn’t imagine a future for himself because he was headed toward a path of drugs and crime, but that’s changed thanks to Young Adult Court.
Today, he’s beaten that addiction, and he’s the first person to graduate from a new program designated to rehabilitate young adults.
As Concini sat inside a packed Bernalillo County courtroom and before District Court Judge Cindy Leos, the atmosphere is a lot different than it was two years ago.
“His struggles were real. His struggles were intense, and when he stood in front me, they were heartbreaking struggles,” Leos said.
Concini was going nowhere. “At one time, my prayers were to either heal him or take him,” his mother Ellen said.
Addicted to methadone and caught selling drugs, Concini was facing felony charges and several years behind bars.
“I would have lost because I sold to an undercover,” he said. “What made me finally snap was the fear of going away for nine years and losing everything.”
The 26-year-old was referred to the Young Adult Court program. It began in 2017 and is a partnership between the Second Judicial District Court, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public’s Defender’s Office, and the sheriff’s office.
“So it’s a program to help emerging adults with adult life, and how to cope with adult life and any other struggles that they’re having,” Leos said.
It’s the only court of its kind in the state. All the young adults in the program are facing felony charges, and if they’re accepted, it’s not easy.
“They do random urinalysis samples. They have weekly court appearances and they meet with their pre-trial services officer once a week as well,” Leos said.
It takes two years before they graduate. “It was my opportunity for a better chance at life,” Concini said.
And a chance at a new beginning. “Once they’ve completed the requirements, they’re looking at a potential dismissal of all their charges, so we expect to be intense and we expect it to be difficult,” Leos said.
Concini was also asked to come back and help mentor other young adults in the program.
“I tell all the new participants, it’s worth the struggle,” Concini said. “You know this program is worth the struggle.”