HOPE rehab center may close


The HOPE Recovery Center, one of only two addiction and mental health treatment facilities in the CNMI, faces a possible shutdown and the Office of the Attorney General’s Criminal Division believes this will only harm the CNMI further.

According to Chester Hinds, OAG Criminal Division chief prosecutor, the HOPE rehabilitation center, which has kept many of those with addiction and mental health issues off the streets and has provided them with the treatment they need, is on the verge of closing down.

The shutdown is believed to be due to budgetary constraints, although Hinds declined to give a categorical answer when pressed.

“What’s happening right now is that HOPE is in the works of closing. They might stay open another month or maybe two months, and I just want to stress how important HOPE is in the treatment community. The HOPE Recovery Center is sort of like inpatient housing for people with addiction. The recovery center allows people to walk in, or if they’re referred by the court, to get treatment. Those who go to HOPE are normally people who may not have a place to go to. They might otherwise be hopeless or their families are not in a position to keep them in their house because they don’t know how to deal with addiction. HOPE provides these individuals a place to stay and actually gives them treatment,” he said.

Hinds said the shutdown of HOPE would be a major blow to the community and would be harmful.

“HOPE shutting down would be a major blow to the treatment community in the CNMI. The treatment community right now is very small as it is. The needs of people who have addiction issues or even mental health issues are probably not getting addressed the way that they should. The trickle-down effect of HOPE closing is that there’s going to be people out on the streets, people who are not getting their addiction treated. Therefore, meth use will continue to rise, and because meth is never going away, it needs to be treated. Unless you want to see people who are just trying to deal with their addiction go to jail, we need to be expanding on a treatment program and not closing the ones we have,” Hinds said.

Hinds noted that there are currently individuals under the Drug Court program and Mental Health Court program who are being treated at the HOPE facility and if it closes, it is uncertain what will happen to these individuals.

“For those with addiction issues, having a place like HOPE allows for placement in a place that is safe with no access to drugs, a place [where] they can actually get treatment. Right now, that might be going away. As far as the Drug Court program, we have people out there that are living there right now. The Mental Health Court has a participant that’s actually living there right now. What happens to those people if the HOPE center goes away? I have no idea. Do they go back to the streets? Do they go back to families that might not be able to accommodate them and be able to understand or deal with their issues? They would have to be given treatment by the Community Guidance Center but even CGC is overwhelmed right now. They don’t have the resources that they need to be able to deal with the amount of people that need their help,” he said.

Ultimately, Hinds said, closing down HOPE would be a disservice to the community and drug-related crimes will only continue to rise.

“I can only speak from the perspective of the Criminal Division here at the Office of the Attorney General, but the reason why [the CNMI government] should keep HOPE program open is because we see the number of cases that come in that stem from drug use, stem from addiction, and it’s a lot. Probably majority of our cases have something to do with addiction and, if we close HOPE and overwhelm other treatment facilities on island, then we’re doing a disservice to our community and we’re only going to see crime rise,” he said.

HOPE, which is locally funded under the Office of the Governor, has helped prevent about 80% of Drug Court participants from committing crimes again.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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