ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Urban Native American Healing to Wellness Court in Bernalillo County is taking a unique approach to criminal justice. The court focuses on helping Native Americans with multiple DWI convictions and uses a “holistic approach to achieve the spiritual and physical recovery” for those involved; now it’s becoming a model for courts in other states.
The court connects people with DWIs to support groups, such as “Food as Medicine” or “Traditional Arts.” All told, the program lasts a year and is aimed at connecting people with their community as a way to help them break the cycle of repeat offenses.
“I am tremendously proud of our Healing to Wellness team and all of its hard work,” Judge Renée Torres, who presides over the Urban Native American Healing to Wellness Court, said in a press release. “Teamwork has been the key to our success, and I am committed to ensuring that we continuously strive to do our best in order to have the greatest positive impact on the community.”
So far, the program has a nearly 95% success rate for preventing recidivism, or repeat offenses, according to the court. It’s being highlighted as a model mentor court. The non-profit Tribal Law and Policy Institute chose Bernalillo County’s programs as a mentor to help a Seattle-based program get up and running.
“We have a lot of knowledge to share with the mentee court, and we look forward to collaborating with them to help them achieve the success we have seen with our participants,” Torres says.