The Latest: Report: Juvenile drug courts less successful
Oct. 26, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the cost of benefits of New Mexico's drug courts (all times local):
Legislative analysts say the costs of drug courts in New Mexico that focus on juveniles with drug abuse or addiction issues are outweighing the benefits.
They briefed members of the Legislative Finance Committee on a report that details the costs of using such programs as an alternative to incarceration for defendants.
Unlike similar programs for adults, the report indicates recidivism rates of juveniles who have participated in drug courts are increasing, while graduation rates are on the decline.
The analysts also acknowledged Thursday that more data should be collected to better assess outcomes for both adult and juvenile offenders.
Court officials told lawmakers that drug courts are at the forefront of criminal justice reform and that they are working with a national group to certify the state's drug courts based on best practices and consistent standards.
Legislative analysts say specialized courts that hear the cases of defendants with substance abuse issues are a less expensive alternative to incarceration.
Their findings were presented Thursday to the Legislative Finance Committee during a meeting at the state Capitol.
The report comes as lawmakers grapple with what to do about rising crime rates and an overburdened court system. Officials have pointed to New Mexico having the second-highest rate of property crime in the nation in 2016.
The total annual cost per person to participate in an adult drug court program is about $9,400. That's less than the $11,500 it would cost without such alternatives.
Rather than 'business as usual' as the analysts describe it, drug courts combine substance abuse testing and treatment with supervision to reduce recidivism of those charged with drug-related offenses.