Place Category: Specialized Court Projects
- SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT/NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS’ NATIVE AMERICAN HEALING TO WELLNESS COURT
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
- PROGRAM OUTCOMES
Summary: The Native American Healing to Wellness Court is a specialized track within The New Mexico Department of Corrections and TheSecond Judicial District Court’s Drug Court Program. The track, offered to self-identified Native American offenders, provides an alternative to incarceration and an opportunity to receive culturally specific holistic treatment. It uses a holistic approach to provide traditional healing and treatment to Native American offenders in the Bernalillo County area. The Healing to Wellness Court’s innovative approach is only the second of its kind in the Nation. It utilizes the existing capacity of the District Court and The New Mexico Department of Correction’s Probation/Parole, as well as the robust social service environment in Albuquerque. Many of the services offered to the Healing to Wellness participants are provided through the track’s community non-profit partner, First Nations.
Self-identified Native Americans from any tribein the State of New Mexico.
Program Running Length:
March 18, 2018 – present
Second Judicial District Court Bernalillo County
400 Lomas Blvd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The court is located within the urban setting of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The city itself is small to medium sized and is surrounded by desert. The Sandia Mountains sit to the east of the city and to the north, west, and south there are open lands with mesas. Many of the pueblo tribes, including Acoma, Laguna,Sandia and Isleta, are located within a 1.5-hour drive of Albuquerque.
The City of Albuquerque boasts a diverse population and is the largest city in the state. There is a heavy Hispanic and Native American influence, as well as a significant Caucasian population. As of 2016, there were just over 559,000 Albuquerque residents, 4.2% of whom identified as Native American.At the start of 2018 there were just over 662,000 Bernalillo County residents, 4% of whom identified as Native American.
The Second Judicial District Court Healing to Wellness (HTW) track was created to address the lack of specialty services available for urban Native Americans in New Mexico who are convicted of a crime related to or influenced by alcohol and/or drugs. It provides a culturally sensitive court system designed to provide holistic services to offenders at the district court level. Additionally, it is one of the only HTW programs in the nation that also serves felony offenders.The HTW track is intended to serve the Native Americanadult population residing within Bernalillo County who are convicted of a crime relating to or influenced by the use of and/or addiction to drugs or alcohol. There is no mandate to be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. The track serves any self-identified Native American as long as their crime is directly related to a substance-abuse issue.The program began running in March of 2018. It was inspired by Judge Briana Zamora, the court’s previous presiding judge, and her recognition of the need for culturally sensitive court services. Additionally, a similar track created by the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court has been running for a number of years and is showing very positive results. The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court track offers both inspiration and guidance for the creation of the HTW track in the Second Judicial District Court.The goal of the HTW track is to provide comprehensive and culturally sensitive services to convicted urban Native Americans who need treatment for substance abuse disorders and/or co-occurring disorders. It aims to strengthen and revive the spirit, reduce recidivism, and improve community safety.The HTW track uses a holistic defense approach to meet the medical, cultural, and treatment needs of its clients. It partners with a local social service agency, First Nations Community Healthsource, to provide a variety of services ranging from counseling and drug treatment to traditional sweat lodges and talking circles.
The 48-week program is run as an alternative to District Court’s Drug Court and facilitated by the Second Judicial District Court and The New Mexico Department of Corrections. It is split into 4 phases:
PHASE 1 (12 weeks):Report to Probation Officer (PO) once a week, or as directed. Meet with the HTW Judge bi-weekly. Attend required treatment. Attend a minimum of three community support meetings each week, or other support groups. Attend one sponsor meeting every week or as directed. Complete a minimum of 8 hours of community service per week if unemployed and 4 hours per week if employed or attending school full-time.
PHASE 2 (12 weeks): Report to PO once a week or as directed. Meet with the HTW Judge once a month. Attend required treatment. Attend a minimum of two community support meetings per week or other approved support group meetings. Attend a minimum of one sponsor meeting per week or as directed. Maintain full-time employment/school, 30 hours of community service or a combination of both.
PHASE 3 (12 weeks): Report to PO once every two weeks or as directed. Meet with the HTW Judge once a month. Attend required treatment. Attend a minimum of one community support meeting per week. Attend a minimum of one sponsor meeting per week or as directed. Maintain full-time employment/school, 30 hours of community service or a combination of both.
PHASE 4 (12 weeks):Report to your PO once a month or as directed. Meet with the HTW Judge once a month. Attend required treatment. Attend at least one community support meeting each week or as directed. Attend a minimum of one sponsor meeting each week or as directed. Maintain full-time employment/school, 30 hours of community service or a combination of both.The HTW track is part of The New Mexico Department of Corrections and The Second Judicial District Drug Court and offered as an alternative track. Presiding Judge Jaramillo oversees the entire track including the programs Standard Drug Court and the Medication Assisted Treatment track. He works closely with the Second Judicial District’s Judicial Supervision and Diversion Programs Director, Kelly Bradford, and the court’s Project Manager, Valerie Herrera. Program Coordinator Forrest Beard has also been instrumental in integrating the track in the current Drug Court. Together, the team is responsible for the oversight of the track and the in-house coordination between different sectors of the Second Judicial District Court and The New Mexico Corrections Department.
The HTW track refers participants to First Nations. Lorenzo Jim, the Program Manager of the Traditional Wellness and Integrative Care Program, is responsible for the intake and subsequent tracking of offenders who come through the HTW Track.Eligibility Criteria: The HTW track is open to any self-identified Native American, age 18 and over, with a substance abuse disorder and a pending felony level charge. Violent offenders are accepted on a case by case basis, pending team approval. The HTW track does not accept offenders charged with capital or sexual offenses. The participant can be from any tribe but does not have to be enrolled.
Referral Process: Referrals can be submitted by attorneys, judges, and probation and parole. Referrals can be submitted on pre-indicted cases, as part of a plea agreement and during post-plea stages of the court proceedings. Referred participants are required to report to the Drug Court Office every Friday between 8:00 am-11:00 am while pending assignment to the Healing to Wellness Drug Court Officer. The Healing to Wellness Drug Court Officer will then contact the referred participant to schedule the screening intake and to begin the treatment referral process.
Supervision and Compliance: Clients in the Healing to Wellness track are required to attend court two times per month. In addition, their attendance and participation in treatment programs and meetings with POs is also required.
Termination Criteria:Termination in this track is based upon a failure to meet with POs, failure to appear in court, or if an offender commits another crime. Additionally, if an offender poses a real threat to any of the staff or fellow clients at First Nations they will be asked to leave. Upon termination, the offender will return to the regular drug court track.The funding for this program came from a grant provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant began in 2017 and will run through 2020. The goal of The Second Judicial District Court and The New Mexico Department of Corrections is for the HTW track to continue after the grant period.The HTW track follows the example of its fellow court, the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, which runs the only other non-tribal HTW track in the nation. Many of the District Court’s HTW track resources and program outlines are modeled after the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court’s current program. The treatment services that are provided through First Nations have been developed and proven successful throughout the years.Since the program’s inception, the Native American Healing to Wellness track has worked alongside First Nations, a local non-profit social service program focused on Native American health and wellness. First Nations provides all the outpatient services including counseling, a food pantry, and job assistance. In addition, they offer cultural support through sweat lodges, talking circles and case management services.A strong partnership with First Nations and a dedicated team are the key factors contributing to the success of the program. Judge Zamora’s leadership was instrumental in the creation of the track, and Judge Jaramillo commitment to the program has continued to strengthen the the program. Additionally, the success that has been seen through the Metropolitan Court’s HTW track hashelped pave the way for the introduction of such an innovative program into the District Court’s current system.One of the largest challenges has been learning how to coordinate with the necessary departments within the Second Judicial Court to make sure the HTW track is offered as an option. Other challenges have included:
- Retraining many of the involved parties, such as parole officers on how and why the track was adopted.
- Promoting the track in the community so that more self-identified Native Americans are aware of it and choose to participate.
- Coordinating with First Nations Community Healthsource to ensure proper mechanisms are developed for tracking participant’s progress throughout the program.
The Healing to Wellness team has learned how important it is for the participants to receive culturally specific treatment to assist in their journey of recovery. It is vitally important to find individuals who identify as Native American and who are interested in participating in the HTW track as early on in the intake process as possible is important.The recent creation of the HTW track impacts the total numbers served. Currently, there are two clients enrolled in the program. The Court is investing more effort into the promotion of the HTW track so that more Native American offenders are aware of the program.The effectiveness of the track is yet to be evaluated. However, because the track has been created in a spirit of shared partnerships with a focus on holistic services, there are high hopes for its success. Additionally, because the HTW track in The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court has been extremely successful, and is the model for the District Court’s track, it is anticipated that the District Court’s HTW track will be equally successful.A launch event took place in May of 2018 in an effort to promote the new Healing to Wellness track within the community. The event was well attended with those present including the general community, community treatment providers, Native American treatment providers and members from the Public Defender’s and District Attorney’s offices, as well as members of the news media. Community response to the track has been very positive and supportive, which is exciting to see.Participants in the track are very interested in incorporating culture and traditions into the journey of recovery. The first participant in the HTW track recently advanced to phase 2 and has selected to participate in additional treatment beyond whatis required because of the cultural connection and individualized support .
- Program Brochure
- The Second Judicial District Court will highlight the HTW track on it’s website at the beginning of 2019.
- SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT/NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS’ NATIVE AMERICAN HEALING TO WELLNESS COURT
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