In less than two years, the CNMI Drug Court has shown much progress, with nearly a 100-percent success rate.
During a weekly drug court hearing Thursday, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio said that, although the drug court program is fairly new, it has been able to post a 99.9-percent success rate.
“Right now, [the success rate] is 99.9-percent because everyone is graduating minus the one that was terminated…were still very new, so as we progress we’ll know better,” she said.
Around 50 participants are enrolled in the program right now.
Since the program started in 2016, there had been roughly around 60 participants, five graduates, and just one termination, Kim-Tenorio said.
When asked about graduates falling back into old drug habits, Kim-Tenorio said that there have not been any since the first batch of graduates and she is hoping it will stay that way.
According to her, the program is meant to help addicts who have committed crimes due to their addiction. The drug court aims to treat the addiction instead of convicting the individual in order to reduce recidivism.
“They commit crimes because it’s driven by their addiction. So we arrest the addiction, basically treat them, and hope that they don’t commit another crime in the future,” she said.
In a previous conversation Kim-Tenorio had with Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero, he said that drug-related crimes in the CNMI have been decreasing and they attribute it to the drug court program’s success.
“There are less drug-related crimes. They’re already seeing a decrease in drug-related crimes and he attributes a lot of that to the drug court…that’s the reward,” she said.
In the past year, the drug court has proven to be the cheaper and better alternative for individuals who have committed drug-related crimes.
“Here in the CNMI, it costs $31,000 a year to house one inmate…but with the drug court, it’s costing us anywhere between $7,500 to $9,000 to treat a person in the span of two years and, when they graduate they wont go back to prison…we treat the whole person, we get them ready for society,” Kim-Tenorio said.