MANCHESTER, NH — A ground-breaking program is being introduced at Hillsborough County Superior Court-North in Manchester dedicated to changing the way probation is approached for those at risk of reoffending — in particular, drug addicts.
The first Warning Hearing under the New Hope Program is scheduled for March 10 at 1 p.m.
Tina L. Nadeau, Chief Justice of the Superior Court system, will preside at the hearing which will include 10 individuals identified by their probation officers as high-risk. Over time the capacity of the program will allow up to 40 participants.
Nadeau stressed that New Hope is not a drug court for the deeply addicted or violent offenders.
“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,” said Nadeau.
“New Hope is a way for the court to get offender’s attention early on, hold the offender accountable for every probation violation and get the offender on track in order to have a better chance at changing destructive behavior and returning them to the community as law abiding citizens. Over time, we believe this approach will lead to a lower recidivism rate and save our corrections systems money, as it has in Hawaii where the program first started,” she said.
Under New Hope, participants will receive intensive probation with particular parameters, including 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, the offender will be arrested immediately and will be brought before a judge the next day for a sanctions hearing.
For every violation, the offender will receive short, immediate jail sanctions. This is in contrast to the current system where offenders do not always receive a consequence for a positive test, can wait weeks before seeing a judge, and spend weeks in jail before a violation hearing can occur.
While New Hope may lead to an increase in violation hearings at the beginning of the program, Nadeau said she believes this new approach is likely to lead to better behavior down the road. The program also includes a treatment component for those who need more assistance with drug use.
Nadeau started New Hope on a pilot basis in Rockingham and Merrimack Counties several years ago. Because of the successful collaboration among those involved in those counties, Hillsborough Northern District was awarded a grant to expand the program to include many more offenders.
Chief Justice Nadeau will preside over the first hearing, but going forward, Superior Court Judge Gillian L. Abramson will take the lead regarding New Hope at Hillsborough North.
Like Nadeau, Abramson is a huge supporter of the program.
“I am confident that New Hope will create positive changes in the lives of a significant number of offenders who appear in my courtroom,” said Abramson. “Since New Hope has worked well in two other counties, my goal is to expand that success rate here in Hillsborough. I believe we have the right team and tools in place to do so.”
New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster offered his support for the initiative as well.
“I am very pleased Hillsborough County has embraced the New Hope Program. This model has been highly effective in other jurisdictions, cutting recidivism rates in half. I would like to commend Judge Nadeau and the court system, as well as the defense and prosecution bars, law enforcement, and county and state correctional agencies for embracing these new approaches that will help offenders lead meaningful and productive lives.”
In addition to the Office of the Attorney General, other partners in the New Hope Program include the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, Probation/Parole, Keystone Hall Greater Nashua Council of Alcoholism, Inc., Hillsborough County Superior Court-Northern Division, Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office, Hillsborough County 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 total, $300,000 comes from an in-kind contribution from the New Hampshire Department of Corrections (Probation/ Parole) and the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections providing staff for drug testing.
The remaining $370,000 was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice through its Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to the New Hampshire Department of Justice. The BJA provides leadership and assistance to local criminal justice programs that improve and reinforce the nation’s criminal justice system. BJA’s goals are to reduce and prevent crime, violence, and drug abuse and to improve the way in which the criminal justice system functions. In order to achieve such goals, BJA programs illustrate the coordination and cooperation of local, state, and federal governments.
For more information regarding the New Hope Grant, please contact Program Administrator Christine M. McKenna at (603) 668-0432 x106.
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