Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
| For Immediate Release:
July 19, 2016
CONCORD, NH – The head of the new statewide drug court program has hit the ground running. Alex Casale, of Alton, started July 18 and brings eleven years of experience to the position having previously served as the coordinator and a case manager with the Strafford County Drug Court. His new job is a result of SB 464 becoming law just this past June. The legislation created the statewide drug offender program that provides more than $2 million in matching state grants to help establish drug courts or alternative drug offender programs in certain counties.
Drug courts operate in 6 out of the 11 county locations: Belknap, Cheshire, Grafton, Hillsborough - Southern Division, Rockingham and Strafford. Some 170 men and women currently participate in the program that boasts a recidivism rate of 22 percent, compared to 78 percent rate for those individuals who are not enrolled in drug court.
“Our ultimate goal is to establish drug courts in all New Hampshire counties,” said Casale, “Hillsborough County Superior Court - Northern Division in Manchester is next on the list. A drug court team has been assembled in Merrimack Superior. We intend to start training them this fall and will apply for an implementation grant to get the program started.”
Casale says his biggest challenge right now is setting up his new office and getting it operational as quickly as possible. That will include creating uniform policies for all drug courts, building a budget and finding out how his office can best serve current drug courts that are already staffed with what he describes as “extremely dedicated teams”. Those teams consist of a coordinator, 1-2 case managers, 2-4 drug and alcohol counselors, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, law enforcement and corrections.
When asked what he found most gratifying about his work with drug courts, Casale said, “It’s being able to help people get their lives back together. To see them transition from the lowest point in their lives to become a different person.” He noted that all successful drug court participants have something special in common: they all become internally motivated to succeed. “After years of using drugs and struggling with addiction, something changes inside them. They become committed to doing the program for themselves, not just to avoid prison or to get their kids back. I give all the credit in the world to our participants, along with the caring and patient men and women who make up our drug court teams.”
The Chief Justice of the Superior Court system, Tina L. Nadeau, requested that representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Corrections, the Commission on Substance and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment and the Governor's Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health make up a hiring committee. Members of the committee selected Casale for the new position.
Nadeau is pleased that Casale was hired, especially after working with him for several years in Strafford County. “We know drug courts work. With the opioid crisis that is currently gripping New Hampshire, it is clear that we need them now more than ever. Alex is definitely the right person to lead our drug court initiative, to expand it and to take it to the next level. With all of his experience and dedication, I know he’s going to make a big difference in our efforts,” she said.
He is a board member and Treasurer of the New England Association of Drug Court Professionals and is a consultant for American University, a peer reviewer for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Best Practice Standards and is part of an ongoing best practice standards implementation advisory group for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.