NM Senate Approves Bill Offering Treatment To Drug Offenders

New Mexico – The second time turned out to be the charm for a proposal that would allow people facing drug possession charges in New Mexico the option of treatment rather than jail time.

After being narrowly defeated Friday, the bill was resurrected and passed the House on a 34-31 vote Tuesday.

The proposed Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act gives judges the ability to determine after a hearing if a substance abuse treatment program would be a viable option for an interested defendant. The defendant would have to pay for the treatment, and the state could pursue the charges if the treatment wasn't completed.

Democrat Rep. Antonio Maestas of Albuquerque says the measure could help break the cycle of drug addiction and save the state millions of dollars in incarceration costs.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.