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SPONSOR Cervantes, J
HB 144
SHORT TITLE Drug Court Resources & Expansion
ANALYST C. Sanchez
APPROPRIATION (dollars in thousands)
or Non-Rec
General Fund
(Parenthesis ( ) Indicate Expenditure Decreases)
Duplicates SB 12, Expand Third District Juvenile Drug Court.
After the Judiciary's hearing before HAFC on 1/18/08, the draft version of the General
Appropriations bill contains $142.8 of the Drug Court Replacement request, $121.4 of the
Expansion request, and $107.0 of the New Drug Court request (total of $371.2 out of total
request of $2,377.3).
In order to avoid duplication LFC recommends reducing the 4
District appropriation by $107
thousand, the 5
District appropriation by $76.4, the 8
District appropriation by $45 thousand,
the 12
District appropriation by $62.8 thousand, and the 13
District appropriation by $80
LFC Files
Responses Received From
Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC)
Department of Corrections (DOC)
Department of Public Safety (DPS)
New Mexico Health Policy Commission (NMHPC)
Synopsis of Bill
This bill seeks to appropriate $2,377,300 from the General Fund to the AOC for expenditure in
FY09 to replace lapsing federal and other funds for drug courts ($206,800), as well as to expand
($1,026,000), and create ($1,144,500) drug courts.
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The appropriation of $2,377,300 contained in this bill is a recurring expense to the general fund.
Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2009 shall revert
to the general fund.
State funding for existing and new drug court programs would allow programs to expand
services and new programs to begin offering services in areas of the state where either limited
services or no services exist. Both efforts require administrative personnel and resources to
oversee and operate drug court programs.
The following table presents a breakdown of the entire appropriation.
Judicial Unit
Drug Court Type and Location
of Lapsing
Funds and
New Drug
Court Requests
First District
Adult (Santa Fe and Rio Arriba Co.)
Second District
Juvenile (Bernalillo Co.)
Third District
Juvenile (Dona Ana Co.)
Fourth District
Juvenile (San Miguel Co.)
Adult (San Miguel Co.)
Fifth District
Family Court (Lea Co.)
Seventh District
Adult (Socorro Co.)
Adult (Torrance Co.)
Eighth District
Adult (Taos Co.)
Juvenile (Taos Co.)
Family Court (Taos Co.)
Adult (Colfax Co.)
Juvenile (Colfax Co.)
Eleventh District Adult (San Juan Co.)
Juvenile (McKinley Co.)
Twelfth District
Juvenile (Otero Co.)
Adult (Otero Co.)
Thirteenth District Juvenile (Sandoval Co.)
Juvenile (Cibola Co.)
Adult (Sandoval Co.)
Adult (Sandoval Co.)
Adult (Valencia Co.)
Family Court (Cibola Co.)
SubTotals =
Total FY09 Drug Court Funding Requests =
Replacement Funds ($206,800):
Two drug court programs are at risk of shutting down or cutting
back services in FY09 if they cannot replace lapsing funds and resources. Federal funds for drug
courts, though relatively plentiful in the past, have been cut significantly; what few grant
announcements there are become highly competitive and difficult to obtain. Both the Adult
program in the Twelfth and the Juvenile program in the Thirteenth have been unsuccessful in
House Bill 144 – Page
obtaining federal funds, but were both able to begin serving their communities with the help of
volunteer treatment services and donated supplies. The Judiciary places a high priority on
institutionalizing with recurring state funding such programs that have been successfully serving
their community through federal or volunteer resources. These programs enjoy strong support in
their communities, targeting adult offenders in Otero County and juvenile offenders in Cibola
Expansion Funds ($1,026,000):
Fifteen drug court programs would use the expansion funds to
improve services and increase program capacity in answer to local demand. Through increased
supplies, staffing, and treatment contracts, these programs would be able to increase their
participant capacity by roughly 100 total participants as well as the extent and quality of services
offered to their participants.
New Drug Court Funds ($1,144,500):
These funds would allow district courts to begin
implementation of five new drug court programs around the state. One of the proposed new adult
drug courts would be in San Miguel Co., which already has a juvenile drug court, but it would
provide services to Guadalupe county, as well, a county that does not yet have a drug court of
any kind (currently, drug courts exist in 23 of the state’s 33 counties). The other four would
provide new programs targeting underserved populations in communities that are already
benefiting from the drug court model. The Judiciary places a high priority on the implementation
of drug courts throughout the state, with the goal of making them accessible to everyone who
could benefit from such programs. One of the main goals of the Judiciary’s 5-Year Plan for
Growth of New Mexico Drug Courts is to implement a drug court in every county in the state.
National studies have shown that 60 to 80 percent of prison and jail inmates, parolees,
probationers, and arrestees are under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the commission of
their offense, committed the offense to support a drug addiction, were charged with a drug- or
alcohol-related crime, or are regular substance abusers.
Incarceration on its own has not resolved the problem, as within 3 years of release from prison,
approximately 2/3 of all offenders, including drug offenders, are rearrested for a new offense; 1/2
are convicted of a new crime; and 1/2 are re-incarcerated for a new crime or parole violation.
Court-mandated treatment on its own is also insufficient as approximately 70% of probationers
and parolees drop out of drug treatment or attend irregularly prior to a 3-month threshold, and
90% drop out prior to 12 months. These thresholds are significant as an evaluation of the Drug
Abuse Treatment Outcome Study suggests that 3 months of drug treatment may be a minimum
for detecting response effects of the intervention, while 6 to 12 months hold greater promise of a
lasting reduction in drug use.
According to the AOC, by combining treatment with the coercive power of the judiciary, the
drug court model has repeatedly shown through national studies that it outperforms virtually all
other intervention strategies for drug involved offenders: recidivism of drug court graduates is
much less than for similar offenders, the cost-per-client of drug court participants is significantly
less than that for incarceration, and even those who do not successfully complete a program have
a greater chance of long-term success due to the longer period of treatment received during their
involvement in a drug court program.
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Such results have led to the spread of drug courts nationwide, from the first in 1989 in Dade
County, Florida, to the over 2100 active today. New Mexico has also benefited from the success
of the drug court model, with its drug court programs growing from 1 in 1994 to 34 active today,
with several more in the pilot and planning stages. Because of the success of its drug court
programs, the New Mexico Judiciary continues working with communities around the state to
maintain existing programs as well as establish new drug court programs. Currently, there are
drug court programs in 12 of the state’s 13 judicial districts, and 23 of the state’s 33 counties.
The funds requested in this bill are necessary to the continued operation of two programs, the
expansion and improvement of fifteen others, and startup funds for five new drug courts in
underserved areas of the state.
FY 09 is the fifth year that the courts will participate in performance-based budgeting. The Drug
Court Advisory Committee and the state’s drug court coordinators have worked with the LFC to
establish performance measures for New Mexico drug court programs. The drug court programs
provide performance measure data quarterly to the LFC.
The funding outlined in this appropriation is necessary to the programs’ ability to gather the data
necessary to calculating and reporting those performance measures.
Probation/parole caseloads will increase in areas that will add adult drug courts. Typically,
probation and parole officers are required to spend more time with drug court participants, i.e.,
more drug testing, more time spent on case management and more time spent in court
appearances. Any time drug courts are expanded or created, additional FTEs for the Corrections
Department are usually needed.
There is discussion of the AOC taking over the operation of all drug courts. Currently, NMCD
essentially operates the drug court in the second judicial district with nine FTEs, and has one
FTE in the Farmington office. (The other drug courts in the state are not operated by NMCD.)
Some of the appropriations included in this bill are duplicated by the HAFC draft of HB 2. In
order to avoid duplication LFC recommends reducing the 4
District appropriation by $107
thousand, the 5
District appropriation by $76.4, the 8
District appropriation by $45 thousand,
the 12
District appropriation by $62.8 thousand, and the 13
District appropriation by $80
HB144 relates to SB10, Additional Third Judicial District Judgeship, because it appropriates
$217.535 from the General Fund to the Third Judicial District Court for an additional District
Judgeship for expenditure in fiscal year 2009.
HB144 relates to SB11, Additional Third District Court Staff, because it appropriates $392.4
House Bill 144 – Page
from the General Fund to the Third Judicial District Court for seven full-time positions for
expenditure in fiscal year 2009.
HB144 relates to SB12, Expand Third District Juvenile Drug Court, because it appropriates
$27.2 from the General Fund to the Administrative Office of the Courts to expand the Juvenile
Drug Court in the Third Judicial District for expenditure in fiscal year 2009.
In January 2006, The New Mexico Supreme Court approved a 5-Year Plan for Growth of New
Mexico Drug Courts (available at That plan has two main goals: (1) to
implement a drug court program in every county of the state (there are currently programs in 23
of the state’s 33 counties); while (2) providing a predictable and stable funding request to the
legislature each year of the plan. FY09 will be the third year of the 5-Year Plan. The plan calls
for funding in FY09 of $1.6 million. However, drug courts’ success in providing treatment for
addictions that, if not treated, result in increased criminal activity, encouraged the Judiciary to
seek additional funding of $777,300 to expand existing drug courts and start new courts beyond
the original plan.
According to the AOC, drug court performance measures show that the drug court programs are
good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. Cost-per-client-per-day for drug courts is significantly
lower than the costs of incarceration, averaging $25.27 in FY07 versus the average cost of
incarceration of $81.35. Though quantifying the exact savings of drug courts in New Mexico in
criminal justice and victimization costs is difficult, a recent study by the Washington State
Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) provides some helpful points of comparison. It was
commissioned by that state’s legislature to identify alternative options to incarceration that could
(a) reduce the future need for prison beds, (b) save money for state and local taxpayers, and (c)
contribute to lower crime rates. WSIPP found and analyzed 571 rigorous comparison-group
evaluations of adult corrections, juvenile corrections, and prevention programs. Among other
findings, WSIPP determined that both adult and juvenile drug courts provided significant
reductions in recidivism over treatment as usual, and even more importantly determined that
each could lead to overall costs savings of over $4600 per participant. Using that general savings
figure with the number of adult and juvenile drug court participants in FY07 would indicate an
overall savings to the citizens of New Mexico in criminal and victimizations of almost
$3,000,000 in FY07.
Other studies have looked at the cost benefits of drug court programs from a larger perspective,
considering not just avoided incarceration costs, but the following comparisons with
probationers: (1) drug court graduates’ wages are higher during and after drug court than
probationers; (2) they work longer than probationers, resulting in higher taxes and FICA
payments, lower TANF and food stamps use; and (3) drug court graduates health care costs and
mental health services were significantly lower than those for probationers. Various city and
county studies around the country have traced such cost savings for their drug court programs
and realized that for every $1 they spent on their drug court programs they were saving from $2
to $10 in other costs.
According to the AOC, other cost savings are realized through the birth of drug-free babies to
participants of the drug court programs. There were at least 20 drug-free babies born to program
participants in FY05, many of whom would have been drug-effected if not drug-addicted without
House Bill 144 – Page
the mother’s participation in the drug court program. Hospitalization and ongoing health care
costs for drug-effected or addicted babies are substantial. For example, children with fetal
alcohol syndrome can require $1.4 million in treatment over their lifetime.
Family Drug Courts seek permanency for the child separated from its parents due to an abuse
and neglect petition, caused by the parents’ substance abuse. Studies show that Family Drug
Court parents reunify with their children significantly faster than parents who are not part of such
programs, benefiting the child as well as avoiding further foster care, social worker, and
Medicaid costs.
As stated earlier, the funds requested in this bill are necessary to the continued operation of two
drug court programs, the expansion and improvement of fifteen others, and the startup of five
new drug courts in underserved areas of the state. Given the success of these programs, the loss
of existing programs and the failure to expand or implement programs in underserved areas will
lead to increased problems with substance abuse in the affected areas, including increased
workload for law enforcement, caseload for the judiciary, and need for beds in detention and
corrections facilities.
As drug courts successfully treat their participants for substance abuse, they often find
participants suffering from a co-occurring disorder that had previously been masked by the
participant’s substance abuse. Identification of the participant’s schizophrenia, bipolar disorder,
severe depression or any other mental health issue allows the drug court to refer to, and in some
cases provide, the treatment necessary to provide the participant their first chance of full
recovery. An ancillary consequence of not enacting this bill is the continued substance abuse by
those with co-occurring disorders who will remain doubly afflicted, often unaware of their own
underlying mental health issue.