3 more graduate from the CNMI Drug Court Program


Three persons have been sober and met all conditions without any violations since joining the CNMI Drug Court Program in 2016, making them the second batch of graduates of the treatment program.

Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio, who has been presiding over the Drug Court sessions, granted assistant attorney general Chester Hinds’ motion to dismiss the illegal possession of controlled substance charges against the three participants, including a woman.

Saipan Tribune was asked to withhold identifying the three.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio, and some lawmakers presented the certificates of completion to the three graduates during the ceremony last Thursday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

Kim-Tenorio later said they now have a total of five individuals who completed the program.

She said the three responded very well to treatment and were found ready to graduate after re-assessment. “So they graduated earlier than expected,” said the judge, explaining that the program is between 18 to 24 months. The graduation for the three should have been either October this year or April next year.

Kim-Tenorio disclosed that there will be another graduation this August.

With another applicant accepted into the program, the number of active cases are back to 44.

Kim-Tenorio said in order to complete the program, it always begins with the efforts of the participants.

“If they don’t want to recover and not ready to recover, it won’t happen. It’s all about them. You can treat somebody but if they don’t want to be treated it’s not going to work,” she said.

The Drug Court had its first session on Dec. 22, 2016. Last March, two persons, including one who is now a Customs officer, were the first graduates of the program.

Recovery mentor Joaquin T. Sablan served as the keynote speaker during the graduation last Thursday.

Drug Court caseworkers Jaclyn T. Mendiola and Dolores I. Benavente, along Marianas Behavioral Health International Inc. counselor Grace S. Vaiagae, spoke about the accomplishments of three graduates and the phases of the treatment program.

Police Officer III Frederick Sato gave the case summary, such as how the graduates were arrested, how they started the program, and how they’re determined to complete the program, among other things.

Chief Justice Castro delivered the closing remarks.

The District Court has a separate drug court program called the Drug Offender Re-entry Program of the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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