New Hampshire Expands Drug Courts To Every County In The State

By John Lavitt 06/17/16

As one of the worst-hit states by the opiate crisis, New Hampshire is in dire need of solutions.

New Hampshire Expands Drug Courts To Every County In The State

New Hampshire just expanded its drug court system in a big way. Governor Maggie Hassan signed Senate Bill 464 into law on Tuesday, establishing a statewide drug court program in all 10 New Hampshire counties. 

"By expanding existing drug courts and establishing new ones across the state, Senate Bill 464 is another important step forward in implementing our comprehensive approach to support law enforcement and strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery programs,” said Hassan in a press release.

The new law provides nearly $2 million to expand the drug court system across the Granite State. The state's existing drug court system operates in only six counties. Currently, 192 people are working their way through the drug court system, but the expansion will significantly raise that number.

The oldest drug court in the state is located in Strafford County, which has been operating for 11 years. Offenders selected for drug court do manage to avoid jail, but only if they are willing to submit to constant supervision that includes twice-weekly random drug testing, counseling, community service, and education, according to WMUR News 9.

"For the first time ever, they realize they can have some control over their life and their choices, and they start making better choices. And they see the results," said New Hampshire Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau. "We also know that offenders who leave jail or prison after one year have a 70% chance of re-offending. Drug court graduates have a 22% chance."

In addition to reducing crime and saving taxpayer money, the drug courts have initiated a workable process that has managed in many cases to break the tragic cycle of addiction. "Drug courts help people return to their communities as contributing members of society," Hassan said. 

As one of the worst-hit states by the opiate crisis, New Hampshire is in dire need of solutions. New Hampshire ranks third-highest for per capita drug overdose deaths in the country, after West Virginia and New Mexico. Because of this, the state would be eligible for up to $5 million in federal aid to expand treatment for opiate addiction, the Union Leader reported on Tuesday. Approximately 26.2 New Hampshirites die of drug overdose per 100,000 people.

During the high-profile presidential primary in New Hampshire earlier this year, The Fix reported on an addiction forum that took place in February in Hooksett, New Hampshire. The only actual presidential candidate at the event was Republican hopeful Ted Cruz, who we noted did not provide satisfactory answers to the mothers and fathers struggling to save their children. Instead of supporting funding for prevention and treatment, Cruz talked about securing the U.S.-Mexico border. 

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.