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Drug courts offer alternatives to those facing drug charges

New Hampshire is taking steps to enhance and expand its drug court programs. Drug courts have proved to be an effective alternative to mass incarceration of persons arrested on drug charges. At this time, the country, including New Hampshire, is reeling from the vast dimensions of an opioid drug epidemic that has caused overdoses and other deaths in the tens of thousands.

New legislation has been signed that will provide $2 million in matching state funds to counties who establish drug courts. There will be another $5 million over the next two years to expand treatment for heroin and opioid addictions. The program is being monitored by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), an organization that issues best practice guidelines that the courts must comply with in order to get funding.

New Hampshire is a state that has special needs in that it reportedly has the third highest incidence of overdoses reported in the country. It ranks at the bottom of the list in terms of available treatment facilities. Thus, it appears that a period of fast action is upon the state so that it can meet the emergency needs of the opioid epidemic.

The program generally puts offenders into the drug court program for potential rehabilitation as an option to prosecution and incarceration. If the offender completes the program, there is generally no criminal offense that has occurred. This compels the individuals who go into the program to go along with the rehab procedures as a way of avoiding prison.

The drug courts will thus partner with the rehab facilities in New Hampshire. One warning to those accused of drug charges: valuable legal rights may be waived in order to take advantage of the program. The accused defendant should consult with a criminal law defense attorney in conjunction with consideration of the drug court program. In that way the individual will obtain accurate information about legal rights and future responsibilities that may be associated with the program.

Source: The Huffington Post, "New Hampshire - A Drug Treatment Court and Rehab in Every County", Elaine Pawlowski, June 24, 2016

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