Alamo getting wellness court

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The Alamo/To’Hajiilee District Court is forming a new drug court to serve Alamo residents, possibly as soon as October.

According to an introduction drafted for the new drug court’s policy and procedure, Alamo/To’Hajiilee District Court received a federal grant through the Department of Justice to plan and implement a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court on the Alamo Navajo reservation. The wellness court will divert people with addiction issues away from the regular court system toward a more holistic approach with a treatment-oriented perspective.

The introduction states tribal wellness courts, first established in 1997, were modeled after state drug court programs. A wellness court addresses alcohol or drug-related cases, as well as other nonviolent offenses, through ongoing judicial supervision, comprehensive drug testing and treatment, team-based case management and community support.

David Singer, care coordinator for Alamo/To’Hajiilee District Court, said they are establishing a wellness court because Socorro’s drug court has a difficult time coordinating services for clients way over in Alamo. He said Alamo residents who have committed a crime due to alcohol or drug use will be eligible for the wellness court program, which already has one participant signed up.

“We’re making an effort to bring about community awareness,” Singer said. “To let them know there is a program that can help them.”

Singer said at present, he is trying to engage Alamo people to serve on a planning committee for the wellness court. Once the program policy and procedures are established, the committee members will meet monthly to evaluate the program. Two people have volunteered to serve on the committee, but Singer said three or more are needed. He noted it is challenging to get people to commit their time to a project that won’t compensate them monetarily.

Singer said he is currently doing site visits to other communities that already have drug courts or wellness courts in place, gathering information to develop Alamo’s wellness court. He noted the drug court staff in Socorro has been very helpful.

“Judge (Matthew) Reynolds is excited to help,” Singer said.

Singer said he and the volunteers are now developing forms, developing policies and procedures, and training staff for Alamo’s wellness court. They have memoranda of understanding with several programs, although the MOUs need to be finalized through work groups.

Singer said Alamo’s wellness court may be implemented as early as the beginning of October.

 

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