drug court

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into law a bill to put state dollars into new and existing drug court programs across New Hampshire.

But for the past four years, Belknap County has been running its own drug court program without any financial help from the county, state or federal government.

They call it recovery court and it’s under the direction of a judge who has placed compassion at the heart of the program.

 

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is going to sign into law a bill establishing a statewide drug court program.

The program will help those battling addiction access treatment and recovery services.

The bill establishes a statewide drug offender grant program, setting up the drug courts or alternative programs. It also transfers $40 million to the state's Rainy Day fund this year.

The bill signing is scheduled for Tuesday in Manchester.

Courtesy the NH House of Representatives

 The idea of expanding drug courts in New Hampshire got an initial stamp of approval from the finance division of the state’s heroin and opioid task force on Tuesday and will now head to the full task force for further approval.

 

A nonprofit group from Grafton County is expanding to support drug courts throughout New Hampshire as the state grapples with a rising heroin and opioid abuse problem.

The Friends of New Hampshire Drug Courts, which started in Grafton County, will raise private money to help support the specialized courts that aim to get drug offenders into treatment and keep them out of jail.

Currently there are drug courts in Belknap, Cheshire, Grafton, Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties.

Push to Make N.H.'s Drug Court System Statewide

Nov 3, 2015
Larry Leach / Flickr/CC

Six of New Hampshire’s ten counties have this alternative system, meant to help low-level drug offenders gain treatment and avoid incarceration. Now, proposed legislation would create incentives for the other four counties to set up drug courts. We’ll look at how these work and why they’ve gained such widespread support, and also the questions that routinely come up. 

GUESTS:

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

State and city officials, standing alongside first responders, announced legislation Tuesday  that would provide state funding for drug courts across New Hampshire.

The bill aims to spend up to $2.5 million on existing and future drug courts over the next two years, with half a million dollars going to a new statewide drug court office.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, who is sponsoring the bill, said at a press conference Tuesday that the rest of the cost will have to be picked up by the individual host county, but participation is voluntary.

orangesparrow via Flickr CC

Two state senators are set to propose a grant program to fund and establish drug courts across New Hampshire.

 

New Hampshire has received a federal grant of nearly $975,000 for a court handling drug-related offenses in Nashua.

Currently, New Hampshire has six drug courts. Five are in county courts: Strafford, Rockingham, Grafton, Cheshire and Hillsborough South. One is in Laconia District Court.

The grant announced Wednesday is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

DOJ

Hillsborough County lawmakers have rejected to fund a drug court in Manchester. The 123-member delegation voted 44-39 Tuesday night against a proposal to spend $450,000 of county funds towards implementing a drug court -- 39 delegates were absent during the vote.

Those who voted against the proposal said they support a drug court but just don't want the county to have to pay for it.

DOJ

Dozens of Manchester officials and advocates testified in front of leaders of the Hillsborough County Legislation Delegation Monday morning, urging lawmakers to fund a drug court in the state's largest city.

Expert Says Drug Courts Reduce Crime

Apr 17, 2015
Patrick Mansell / flickr Creative Commons

Drug courts in several New Hampshire counties allow some non-violent offenders to avoid jail and treat their addiction. The courts are growing across  the state and earlier this week lawmakers heard from a national drug court expert. Dr. Doug Marlowe is the chief of science, law, and policy for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. He spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.
 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

While addiction and related crimes are on the rise in Grafton County, the county’s Drug Court is struggling to fill enough seats.  That’s even though clients who get a drug court offer can avoid incarceration, get access to affordable high-level addiction-treatment programs, and often have their conviction vacated after completion.

It's Lonely In Here

By John Phelan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Drug courts are supposed to save taxpayers money: one year of intense treatment and supervision costs about a third as much as a year behind bars.

But it still requires money, up front.

Now, after squeezing four years out of a federal startup grant, Rockingham County is wrestling over how to fund the program.

Michael Flanagan/Flickr CC

The Bureau of Justice Administration has approved funding for a new drug court in Nashua, but has rejected a grant for the same program in Manchester.

Hillsborough County Superior Court had applied for two three-year, $325,000 grants.

Each would have funded drug courts in the state’s two largest cities, but, earlier this month, only Nashua’s was approved.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Ken Brown says while he’s disappointed, the Manchester court did receive funding for a similar program called Project HOPE.

Sarah McGovern via Flickr CC

An unofficial drug court in Nashua is celebrating both its first program graduate and a federal grant that will allow the program to continue.

Drug courts allow nonviolent criminals to avoid jail time and instead get court-ordered treatment, therapy and other help. Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Jacalyn Colburn told the Telegraph that she started an unofficial version last year with funding from the Greater Nashua Mental Health Center, and later applied for a federal grant.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  About 80% of the people behind bars in New Hampshire have substance abuse issues. It’s a growing problem and one way the justice system is trying to address the problem is with drug courts—where nonviolent offenders have their sentences suspended if they take part in treatment. Five counties now operate drug courts and efforts are underway to start two more in Manchester and Nashua. The program could help reduce recidivism rates.


It’s important to note, firstly, that the cost of incarcerating someone in state prison is about $32k and in county jails about $35k. Experts say that ideally, drug courts operate on a budget that has a per capita cost of about $8-12k. Any less than that and participants may not be getting enough supervision or critical aid in education, transportation, medication etc. Any more than that and it’s probably time to bring more participants into the program. The challenge many drug courts face is funding.