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Drug charges may create a spiral of punishment leading nowhere

When the police in New Hampshire arrest a suspect with an existing record of many past drug offenses, they generally process the individual through the criminal system as a matter of course. The individual is generally prosecuted as a criminal on the drug charges and is given an escalating series of punishment as each successive arrest occurs. This usually includes a longer sentence and imprisonment in a higher security state institution, i.e., a repository for hardened criminals.

As society encounters the realities of the opioid crisis, however, lessons are being learned about the strongest ways to confront the drug epidemic. Rarely do increased incarceration and ominous forms of punishment result in effective deterrence or a viable resolution to the growing societal threat. Most experts now agree that treatment, rehabilitation and creative programs for resocialization of offenders is a superior counter to the problem.

In Concord recently, the police arrested a 21-year-old man for drug possession and other charges. Police responded to a report of two men arguing and/or fighting inside of an apartment at about 5 p.m. At some point, an officer saw two men leaving the scene and told them to stop. They kept running, but he caught up with the suspect who was arrested. The officer arrested him for allegedly possessing two syringes believed to contain heroin.

It is unclear whether the man actually possessed a weapon, but he was charged with resisting arrest or detention and on a charge of a felon in possession of a weapon. The man reportedly has been arrested and incarcerated many times for drug charges in New Hampshire over the past four years. He will be appointed a criminal defense counsel, and it is hoped that counsel will stress the need for alternative methods of handling this man's situation. He appears to suffer from a longstanding, severe case of drug addiction, which cannot be countered by traditional forms of incarceration.

Source: Concord, NH Patch, "Disturbance At Concord Gardens Leads To Weapon, Drug Charges", Tony Schinella, Nov. 10, 2017

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