Meeting set to consider future of DUI Court

For the past two years, the Archuleta County DUI Court has been working to change lives, while at the same time making the streets and highways safer for everyone.

With the possibility that current funding resources will expire at the end of September, a community meeting is being organized to discuss the future of the program.

Interested citizens are encouraged to join with court staff, local government officials, representatives from law enforcement agencies, treatment providers, support group leaders, as well as program graduates and their family members at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20. The meeting will be held in the Municipal Courtroom at the Pagosa Springs Town Hall, 551 Hot Springs Blvd.

Topics to be discussed include the existing program, current and prospective funding resources, the problem-solving court model, ways of increasing community participation, and the possibility of expanding to include drug offenders.

The Archuleta County DUI Court was established in April 2007 under a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, administered by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Since its inception, 57 individuals have participated, 39 of whom have successfully completed the program and 13 who are currently involved. One measure of success is that there have been no known incidents of repeat offenses. In addition, the number of new DUI and DWAI arrests has dropped by approximately 20 percent in the two years of operation.

The DUI Court implements a new approach known as “Problem Solving Courts,” which involves close and lengthy monitoring, therapy and supervision to change a defendant’s behavior. Recidivism, or the rate at which defendants reoffend, under this model can be cut by 40 percent as opposed to the traditional jail model. Statistics have shown that the deterrence/retributive approach such as jail has little effect on recidivism rates, and the costs impact the defendant’s family, employers, and the taxpayers who bear the expense of incarceration through their taxes.

Archuleta County Court Judge Jim Denvir, who has presided over the program until recently, when Bill Anderson was appointed County Court Magistrate for the DUI Court, is a committed supporter of the problem solving approach because he has seen its effectiveness. The meeting planned for May 20 comes out of his belief that the benefits to the community are significant, and that community support is vital to the court’s continued operation.

The meeting is open to the public, and anyone with an interest in the future of the DUI Court is encouraged to attend.

For additional information, contact the Archuleta Combined Courts at 264-5932.