Graduate cites success of Metro Court's DWI Recovery program
August 16, 2018 06:20 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court’s DWI recovery program has been offering offenders a path to redemption for 20 years.
Judge Edward Benavidez took over the program four years ago and couldn’t be more proud of the 300th graduate, Angelo Atencio.
On Thursday, at the Metropolitan Court, Atencio gave a speech that brought laughter to the courtroom, but he also shared his struggle with alcohol addiction.
“It was probably pretty much every day. Just unhappy, you know. Bad home life, bad marriage,” Atencio said.
Atencio had two DWIs, but he has been sober for a year. He said his counselor, probation officer, and Judge Benavidez did not give up on him.
“I didn’t want it. I didn’t want any part of this program,” he said. “It demanded so much. The first three months were the hardest.”
Despite the hard work, he’s glad he stayed.
“I’ve become a better co-worker, a better friend, better father. I have a better job, better vehicle, a lot more money. (I’m) not spending money on alcohol like I was back in the day,” Atencio said.
Atencio didn’t just get his name on the Honorary Wall of Graduate, he got back what he lost.
“I hadn’t spoken with my son for about three years, and I have a beautiful little granddaughter that I’ve seen for the first time just a little while ago,” he said.
He’s looking forward to his second chance in life.
“I’m happy again. I’m alive. I’m alive again,” he said.
The judge said the program takes about 14 months to complete and only 13 graduates have re-offended since he took over. Anyone with more than one offense can enter the program.
He said it also benefits taxpayers since it costs $120 per day to have someone in jail and only $18 per day for the DWI recovery program.
Updated: August 16, 2018 06:20 PM
Created: August 16, 2018 06:06 PM
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