City pulls plug on Second Chance

Rehab center broke lease, mayor says

KRQE News, Albuquerque, New Mexico/December 26, 2008

A controversial drug-rehab center organized on elements of Scientology is being evicted for housing inmates convicted of violent crimes, Albuquerque's mayor said Friday.

The eviction notice gives Second Chance until the end of the next month to wind down the operation housed in a former city jail on Albuquerque's northwest mesa. So far there has been no response from Second Chance.

For the 46 inmates now housed at Second Chance it appears that in a matter of weeks they'll be sent back to the county jails from which they came. For those who work there, the future is less certain.

"They simply didn't live up to their end of the agreement," Mayor Martin Chávez said. Chávez ordered the lease terminated, and eviction proceedings have begun.

On a cold Friday night guards at the Second Chance facility who spoke to KRQE News 13 off camera said they're worried about finding new jobs.

From it's opening more than two years ago Second Chance's treatment for drug and alcohol addiction by using vitamins and saunas has been controversial. The treatment methods are from the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

"Maybe Tom Cruise can put some money in," Chávez said referring to one of best-known followers of the Church of Scientology. "I don't know."

However Chávez said he want to be clear that it wasn't Scientology but the housing of violent inmates and an apparent effort to cover it up that caused him to take action.

Second Chance's own documents show it violated the lease by housing inmates charged with violent crimes, he added

"It's an unfortunate end to what could have been a great experiment in an alternative type of rehabilitation," Chávez said. "But it's not to be, and the fault for that lies clearly with Second Chance."

The eviction notice gives Second Chance until Jan. 30. It could sue the city to stay open, but it's month-to-month lease may weaken its legal stance.

Second Chance also could find a new home, but it would have to find a facility like the current one, a building that was once a jail and is equipped to incarcerate inmates."

For the last two days KRQE News 13 has been trying to reach Second Chance President Joy Westrum for the treatment center's side of the story. She has not responded to those requests for comment.

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