City councilors approve $1.5M for inmate opioid detox

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque city councilors voted on a resolution to give the Metropolitan Detention Center more than a million dollars to help inmates get off opioids.

They also officially urged Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to call a special session to tackle crime. 

Data presented Monday night showed in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, more than half of people released from jail or prison in the state were rebooked within three years.  

Researchers say substance abuse was to blame. 

City Councilor Klarissa Peña says the $1.5 million from a nationwide opioid settlement is a drop in the bucket, but every dollar helps. 

“So I look at this as an opportunity to be able for them to be able to at least see the light and once I think some people have that opening they start to seek additional services. But once you’re addicted and in that it’s hard to see the forest through the trees,” said Peña.  

That money is to help get the detox improvement at MDC off the ground. 

Peña says they’ll look at how it helps over the year to decide if it’s something they’ll keep investing in.

The other decision council made is to kind of put some pressure on our governor to call a special session on crime. 

The city council’s request echoes other calls for a special session since the governor declared gun violence a public health emergency in the state just weeks ago. 

Councilors are set to vote on a resolution calling on our state Legislature to act on four crime priorities. 

Comprehensive statewide drug treatment, warrant enforcement funding, and a tool to make it easier for judges to keep violent criminals in jail. 

They also want the Legislature to prioritize passing the three strikes law that would give a life sentence to repeat offenders who use a firearm in a violent crime – if they’ve already had three violent offenses. 

“I don’t believe that these are controversial issues, these are real solutions that we know are going to reduce crime in our city, and we’re saying ‘Let’s get it done,’” said City Councilor Dan Lewis. 

Essentially, they’re hoping the governor rethinks her decision because she already said she’s not calling a special session.

Democratic leadership in the state House is on the same page. Speaker of the House Javier Martinez said he thinks a special session would be a waste of taxpayer money because there is no true consensus on how to move forward among Republicans and Democrats. 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the governor’s office says the four actions city council wants either have been done or are in the process of getting done. 

However, every time a three-strikes-law has been introduced during session it’s never made it out of committee.