Treatment Instead of Incarceration Bill Passes Senate 36 to 1

Press Release March 5, 2007
Media Contact

Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798 or Tommy McDonald at (505) 983-3277

Santa Fe — A bill proposing treatment instead of incarceration for nonviolent drug possession arrestees passed the Senate today by a vote of 36 to 1. SB 620 calls for supervision and community-based substance abuse treatment to be an option for individuals facing prosecution for first- or second-time nonviolent drug possession charges.

The diversion program would be used at the discretion of the judge and applied on an individualized basis. Drug possession arrestees participating in the program would have to comply with the treatment services outlined by the court, and after completion of the treatment program could have the charge cleared from their record.

“Rather than sending people to prison to learn more serious crimes, this bill gets to the root of the problem for people struggling with drug addiction,” said Senator Richard Martinez, D-District 5, sponsor of the bill,

With no debate, SB 620 passed the Senate. It now heads to the House.

“Approximately 87 percent of New Mexico’s state prisoners were assessed as needing substance abuse treatment services,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. “Nonviolent drug offenders need treatment, not jail, to break the cycle of addiction and regain control of their lives to become productive members of their families and society.”

For more information on House committee assignments please contact Reena Szczepanski (505) 699-0798 or Tommy McDonald (505) 983-3277.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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