- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire judge says a pair of drug courts could open as soon as this fall in Hillsborough County if a federal grant comes through.

Drug courts, which already operate in Rockingham, Grafton and Strafford counties, allow non-violent offenders with histories of drug addiction to participate in court-supervised treatment programs instead of going to jail.

The Legislature passed a law in 2012 to make starting such courts easier, but efforts to open locations in Manchester and Nashua were stalled last year due to the automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

Judge Kenneth Brown told the Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1eAbLCj) that judicial, drug treatment and law enforcement officials have completed drug court training and are waiting to see if the Justice Department will approve a $700,000 grant. If the money is approved, the courts could begin accepting cases in September or October, he said.

“We’ve got everything in place,” he said. “All the team players are there, so it’s just a matter of getting the funding.”

The grants, which would cover three years, would allow for about 40 defendants at any given time in each court. The program takes an average of 18 months to complete, he said.

Jackie Smith of the Nashua public defender’s office, said the courts are long overdue.

“I look at a place like Strafford County and I get really excited about how we can help rehabilitate people addicted to drugs in our community,” she said. “I think it’s a long time coming in Hillsborough County.”

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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