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Bar News - March 18, 2015

Court News: ‘New Hope’ Expands to Hills North

An intensive probation program designed for drug abusers who are at risk for reoffending is expanding to Hillsborough County Superior Court-North in Manchester thanks to some federal grant funding received last fall.

NH Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau presided at an initial hearing earlier this month that included 10 inductees who were identified by their probation officers as high-risk offenders. Over time, the capacity of the program will allow up to 40 participants.

“This program is meant for users and abusers of drugs who can stop on their own, or with minimal assistance, but who will benefit greatly from having sanctions imposed on them more quickly and in a more meaningful way than is currently the practice,” Nadeau said in a prepared statement. “New Hope is a way for the court to get offenders’ attention early on, hold the offender accountable for every probation violation, and get the offender on track... Over time, we believe this approach will lead to a lower recidivism rate and save our corrections systems money.”

New Hope participants receive random drug tests three times a week. If an offender tests positive for drug use, or fails to comply with any other conditions of probation, he or she is arrested immediately and brought before a judge the next day for a hearing. For every violation, the offender will receive short, immediate jail sanctions. The program also includes a treatment component for those who need more assistance with drug use.

Nadeau started New Hope as a pilot program in Rockingham County in 2010. The program is modeled after a similar program in Hawaii known as HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement).

Although Nadeau presided over the first New Hope hearing in Manchester, Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson will take the lead regarding New Hope at Hillsborough North.

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster said he supports the program. “This model has been highly effective in other jurisdictions, cutting recidivism rates in half,” he said. In addition to the Office of the Attorney General, other partners in the New Hope Program include the NH Department of Corrections Office of Probation/Parole, Keystone Hall Greater Nashua Council of Alcoholism, Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office, NH Public Defender Program, the Manchester Police Department and the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections.

New Hope is supported by a two-year grant worth $670,000. Of that, $300,000 comes from an in-kind contribution of staff time from the Office of Probation/Parole and the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections. The remaining $370,000 was awarded by the US Department of Justice through its Bureau of Justice Assistance to the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

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