August 18, 1999

The Honorable Pete V. Domenici
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510-3101

Dear Senator Domenici:

I am pleased to present the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) technical assistance action plan to support and sustain efforts to respond to the illicit drug and crime issues in Rio Arriba County so vividly portrayed in the field hearing on March 30, 1999 in Espanola. In testimony there I emphasized the importance of government agencies and service providers collaborating with each other, working in partnership with the community, and embracing a balanced and coordinated approach to crime prevention, control, and community empowerment. The OJP report concludes that no less an effort will be needed in Rio Arriba to address the related crime and drug problems from both a justice and public health perspective. I believe the action plan presented will enable state, local, and community leaders to move forward with a structured agenda that has high potential for success in improving the quality of life in the Espanola Valley.

Specifically, the report presents an action plan to build an infrastructure, and better use federal resources to leverage coordinated public safety and community health strategies. The centerpiece of the action plan is the proposed Community Health and Justice Council, an infrastructure that places a hallmark on shared leadership by federal, state, and county stakeholders and a premium on a unified response to crime and substance abuse problems in Rio Arriba County. OJP and its federal partners in this venture have committed technical assistance resources to the effort as described in the report. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Corrections, and Project SEARCH, funded by the OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance have all indicated their support in letters that are exhibits to the report. In addition, this fiscal year OJP will award discretionary funds in the aggregate amount of $564,795 to support two drug court expansions, regional drug free coalition building efforts, and a community prosecution planning project targeting Rio Arriba County.

I wish to recognize the work of the OJP Technical Assistance Response Team that took on this special project with zeal and dedication and delivered this report in a few short months. This was possible thanks to the cooperation and insights shared in the team's meetings with state, county, and community representatives.

We look forward to working with you in this important project.

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