ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some felony offenders will now have the chance to get their case dismissed if they complete Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court’s new Overdose Prevention, Treatment, and Intervention program.
The program, abbreviated to “Opt-In Court,” is the first court program in New Mexico specifically designed to help prevent opioid abuse and overdose among people who enter the criminal justice system, according to Camille Baca, a spokesperson for the court. And officials say the program could help reduce repeat offenders.
“Opt-In Court recognizes that there is a critical window in which we can intervene and help people engage with resources to assist them on their path to recovery,” Judge Claire A. McDaniel, who spearheaded and will preside over the local diversion program, said in a press release. “Our goal is to save lives by diverting individuals at high risk of overdose into treatment. We are hopeful that this approach will also reduce recidivism rates.”
Now, all people booked on felony charges in the Metro Detention Center will be screened. If court staff, prosecutors, and defenders decide an individual might be helped by the treatment, the individual will be sent to detox or treatment, rather than traditional jail. The accused person would meet with caseworkers and Judge McDaniel during the 90-day program. After that, they’ll have their case dismissed.
Court spokesperson Camille Baca says individuals charged with murder, manslaughter, or sex offenses won’t be eligible for the diversion program. Funding for the program comes from the metro court’s existing pool of funds.