‘CNMI Drug Court is growing’

Kim-Tenorio happy because program helps more families, but sad because of ‘ice’ epidemic

Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog, Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro pose for a group photo with justices, judges, lawmakers, lawyers, and members of the CNMI Drug Court program during a proclamation signing declaring May as Drug Court Month and May 1 as Law Day at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe. (Ferdie De La Torre)

The CNMI Drug Court is only one year and four months old, but it is growing as it currently has 44 participants, a couple more are joining, and about 17 are on the wait list, according to Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio.

“I’m happy that the program is growing because we’re helping more families. But it’s sad at the same time because it [highlights] the ‘ice’ epidemic we have in the Commonwealth,” said Kim-Tenorio during the signing of a proclamation declaring May as Drug Court Month at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe last week.

Kim-Tenorio, who handles the CNMI Drug Court, disclosed that the program has 44 active participants, not including the two who had already graduated.

Two others would start yesterday in the program, while another two may join next week.

She said there are 15 to 17 on the wait list.

Kim-Tenorio said three or four participants are expected to graduate from the program this May 24.

In the month of May, Kim-Tenorio said they will work with the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and more than 3,000 drug courts across the nation to celebrate the Drug Court Month.

“We have a lot of outreach programs to junior high and high schools on Saipan and to Rota and Tinian because we want them to know that the service is available,” she said.

Kim-Tenorio said they will be doing their usual “Walk for Recovery” to increase awareness in the community.

She said one of the program’s participants will lead a hike to the Bird Island Lookout in Marpi.

In reading the proclamation, Drug Court caseworker Dolores Benavente said treatment courts are now recognized as the most successful justice system intervention in the nation’s history.

Benavente said treatment courts significantly improve substance use disorder treatment outcomes, substantially reduce addiction and related crime, and do so at less expense than any other criminal justice strategy.

In his closing remarks, Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja said the CNMI Drug Court has grown into a shining example of what the three branches of government can do when they work together, and work within the boundaries of the Constitution.

“The Drug Court is providing the CNMI with a model for drug rehabilitation,” Naraja said.

Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog also signed a proclamation declaring May 1 as Law Day.

CNMI Bar president Charles Brasington said that Law Day is commemorated in the Commonwealth with the annual Junior High and High School Mock Trial competitions, the Eighth Essay and Poster contests, the 34th Attorney General’s Cup Speech Competition, and Judges in the Classroom program.

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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