Sablan, Judiciary fortifying Drug Court program


Over seven months after the signing of the Drug Court Act of 2015 in October, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres appointed Yvette Sablan, who previously worked for Salem Oregon’s Marion County Health Department and served for Salem County’s District Attorney’s office for Victim Assistance, as the Special Assistant for Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation Program.

Sablan received her bachelor’s degree in Social & Behavioral Studies at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, and her Associate’s on Criminal Justice at Chemeketa Community College before returning to Saipan in April.

With the newly established Drug Court, the Special Assistant for Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation position was created to coordinate a program developed in collaboration with the newly installed CNMI Drug Court to serve individuals who choose to participate in a treatment program.

In response to increasing drug crimes in the CNMI, the Drug Court Act became the CNMI’s first official mandate on the war on drugs.

With the support of the NMI Judiciary and the District Court, the law incorporates drug dependency treatment with continuous judicial supervision for qualifying defendants, for both adults and juveniles, and would provide for the rehabilitation of those individuals suffering from addiction while ensuring that the community remains protected.

According to Sablan, “the program gives our people the opportunity to volunteer in a treatment program instead of imprisonment and they are therefore referred to as participants rather than offenders.”

Referring to the specialized court’s creative blend of treatment and sanctioned alternatives to effectively address offender behavior, rehabilitation, and the safety of our community, eligible drug court participants are assigned to a court case manager and are encouraged and strictly guided through phases of treatment, in addition to trainings on life skills. “The birth of this program provided our governor the opportunity to finally put his vision into place and without hesitation; he took the lead and designated a refuge in the Northern part of the island to be used as a residential, rehabilitative center. As his special assistant, alongside the Drug Court and treatment providers, we’ll work to develop and implement a treatment program that would maximize the use of the facility,” she said.

Since joining the efforts to combat drug crimes and addiction, Sablan says that meetings with Drug Court Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio, the Community Guidance Center, and non-profit organizations have been productive.

“Together with the governor, we all recognize the cries of our people for help, not just by the addicted individuals, but by families and friends as well,” she said.

Sablan adds that although the Drug Court is new to the CNMI judicial system and treatment providers have to familiarize themselves with a newly established program, “the step taken here is undoubtedly and inarguably a huge step toward addressing the outcries of substance abuse, we have all taken into consideration that we may encounter the trials and errors as first timers to this program, however, I will comfortably and confidently speak on behalf of everyone involved in this program that we are all driven by a force of compassion and commitment and that the only greatest challenge we face, is to restore hope in our participants; the success and completion of the program will be through their will and choice to regain their independence and to live drug-free,” she said. (PR)

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