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Bar News - November 18, 2015


Court News: Friends of Drug Courts Nonprofit Expands

The nonprofit Friends of the Grafton County Drug Court is expanding to become Friends of New Hampshire Drug Courts, with the mission of supporting drug courts statewide.

Because drug courts are designed to work along with the criminal justice system, offering defendants whose offenses are driven by substance abuse an alternative sentencing option, Friends of New Hampshire Drug Courts will work to enhance those programs by providing private funding for incentives as well as related education and training.

“The establishment of this statewide nonprofit comes at a critical time as New Hampshire is working hard to formulate a comprehensive, coordinated response to confront the growing heroin and drug crisis that is raging across our state,” stated Edward Rajsteter, president of The Friends of New Hampshire Drug Courts.

Currently, drug courts are funded through a mix of county funds and federal grants, but there is a strong push for the state to fund part of each drug court’s operating budget. The Friends fundraising will not replace state and county funding of drug court programs, but will enhance it, according to Rajsteter.

The expansion announcement comes just as the NH Legislature is about to go into special session this fall to address the state’s substance abuse crisis.

“The heroin and substance abuse crisis is the most pressing public health and safety challenge facing our state, an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ moment that requires us all to work together,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said. “… I remain committed to working with legislators to develop a statewide drug court funding plan, as well as increasing treatment capacity - through measures like the reauthorization of our bipartisan health care plan - in order to ensure that those who go through our drug courts have access to treatment services.”

Pending legislation would provide state matching funds for drug courts.

NH Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau, a longtime supporter of the drug court model, said: “If we want to reduce crime, save money and return people to the community as contributing members, then we need to be more creative about what we do with those offenders who have drug addictions and end up recycling through our jails and prisons. Drug court is one of those options we can use to address the addiction crisis in our state and to make our state more safe. I am thrilled that this committed group of active community leaders wants to support a better way to address crime and addiction.”

Alex Casale, state drug court coordinator, said the new nonprofit will be the first of its kind in the nation.

Membership in the organization is open to all. The nonprofit plans to expand its board of directors to include representatives of each drug court in the state, as well as corporate supporters.

For more information, email friendsofnhdrugcts@gmail.com.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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