Good news on two fronts related, in part, to New Hampshire’s drug abuse problems was featured in our Sunday News this week. It is worth more attention.
The jail population in several of the state’s biggest counties is trending downward, dramatically so. One reason cited is that some drug-abusers are going to drug courts and treatment instead of to the county jail. Sadly, the rate of returning prisoners with drug problems is also down due to the still-heavy death toll that drugs exact.
Also contributing to the jail reduction is the manner in which the New Hampshire court system now deals with those accused of felony-level crimes. They now go right to superior court, bypassing district (circuit) court arraignments and, often, resulting jail stays. Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau championed this change and it is bearing fruit.
But the jury is still out on another legal reform that has led to empty jail cells. The move to eliminate bail for those who are or claim to be indigent has led to some dangerous situations involving repeat offenders. New legislation to fix the still-new bail legislation is in the works.
The other good news story was in our “Beyond the Stigma” series that explores mental health and addiction problems. Reporter Shawne Wickham took a look at a program that is turning around the lives of men plagued by substance abuse.
The program began as “Teen Challenge” working with youth gangs in New York City. But it has now transformed into a program for adult men and it is not shy about its emphasis on faith in God.
Program director Pastor Stephen Gadomski notes that while all rehabilitation programs have a faith component to them proponents of this one “believe that faith makes all the difference in the world, and we focus on that.”
The stories of New Hampshire men who have succeeded with this program after failing time and again are pretty powerful evidence that something positive is happening here. “Beyond the Stigma” stories are at www.UnionLeader.com/stigma.