Author Note: The Chase Home is one of 16 programs mentioned in this article and effected by this bill.
Sponsored by Senator Bob Giuda, SB294 was recently passed, a move that will restore funding to accredited Juvenile Court Diversion programs throughout New Hampshire.
Providing evidence-based support and comprehensive services to first-time juvenile offenders rather than placing them in the traditional Juvenile Justice System, these programs lost State Incentive Funds in 2011.
“The dramatically higher success rate and greatly reduced cost of juvenile diversion provides a win-win-win for our young people, our families and our communities,” stated Senator Giuda. “While providing careful oversight and accountability, diversion allows us to bring needed resources to bear so we’re not only addressing the results of juvenile offenses, we’re addressing the causes, on a case-by-case basis.”
Senator Giuda expressed appreciation toward Rep. Ned Gordon for “providing valuable insights from his years on the bench” and Deb Naro of Communities for Alcohol-and Drug-free Youth (CADY-Plymouth) in “bringing forward the absence of funding for juvenile diversion.”
“We continue to work together to improve our justice system as new knowledge comes to light regarding mental health, substance abuse, and other issues confronting our state,” he added.
Bill co-sponsor, Rep. Gordon said, “I am so pleased that we were able to include funding for diversion programs in the new budget. This will improve juvenile justice in this state. Kids can be given the opportunity to address behavioral issues without going to Court and being branded as delinquents.”
CADY Executive Director Deb Naro said she is “very grateful” for the support of both Senator Giuda and Rep. Ned Gordon for their advocacy and leadership on the legislation.”
“Last fall, I met with Senator Giuda and the Juvenile Diversion Network, and we worked together on this important piece of legislation to solve a long-standing problem with a statewide solution,” she noted.
In addition to Sen. Giuda, Dist 2 and Rep. Gordon, Graf. 9, other bill co-sponsors include Rep. Suzanne Smith, Graf. 8; Rep. DiLorenzo, Rock. 17; and Rep. Ken Weyler, Rock. 13
CADY’s Juvenile Restorative Justice Program is one of 16 accredited juvenile court diversion programs in NH, which serve up to 700 youth per year arrested for first-time offenses. These accredited programs are members of the NH Juvenile Court Diversion Network.
According to a recent study of 444 youth who went through a diversion program in New Hampshire, 79.3% were arrest-free one year later with 58.7% arrest-free after three years. Both percentages are substantially better than traditional juvenile justice measures, which are 20.7% and 41.3%, respectively.
To learn more about Juvenile Court Diversion in NH, visit nhcourtdiversion.org.