- Associated Press - Sunday, March 8, 2015

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Judicial Branch is starting a new, intensive probation program for drug users at risk of committing new crimes.

The New Hope program will have its first hearing on March 10 in Hillsborough County Superior Court North, where the program will be based.

Judicial officials say the program is not directed at the severely addicted or violent offenders, but those who are drug users with more potential to be rehabilitated.

Those chosen for the program will receive random drug screenings three times a week and lapses will result in immediate, short-term incarceration.

Judge Tina Nadeau, chief justice, of the superior court system, says she knows the program will lead to increased violations at the outset, but believes it will result in better behavior down the road.

“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,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau started New Hope on a pilot basis in Rockingham and Merrimack Counties several years ago. Because of the successful collaboration among stakeholders in those counties, Hillsborough Northern District was awarded a grant to expand the program to include many more offenders.

Nadeau will preside over the first session March 10, then Superior Court Judge Gillian L. Abramson will take the helm.

“I am confident that New Hope will create positive changes in the lives of a significant number of offenders in who appear in my courtroom,” said Abramson.

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster says he supports the program and believes it will help offenders lead more meaningful and productive lives.

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