CONCORD, N.H. – An intensive program to help nonviolent addicted offenders is not being used and is essentially “dead in the water,” in the words of the federal judge who designed it.

Federal prosecutors haven’t referred anyone into the LASER program in months, U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante said at a sentencing hearing last week.

“The faucet has stopped,” Laplante said of LASER, which stands for law-abiding, sober, employed and rehabilitated.

In its nearly two years of operation, LASER has admitted 13 participants. Five failed; four graduated after a year to 18 months of intense treatment and weekly court sessions with Laplante; and four are currently in the program.

Unlike other federal programs that offer intensive treatment after a convict has completed a prison sentence, LASER uses the prospect of a reduced sentence and the chance to turn a life around prior to sentencing. A guilty plea is a prerequisite to participation.

U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said his office these days seldom prosecutes the kind of nonviolent addicts the program is designed to treat.

“Our office is doing fewer of the types of drug cases that are amenable to drug court and more of the longer term, financial fraud cases,” Kacavas said. “I think small drug cases are best left to the county attorneys.”

Kacavas said Friday that he remains a big advocate of LASER and stressed that it’s never been teeming with participants.

“I think the most participants at any one time was seven,” Kacavas said. “It’s not like it’s the most robust program going. We’re not in Chicago.”

A defendant is ruled out for the program if involved in violence, weapons, sale to minors or sex offenses or if deemed to be a kingpin of a drug operations.

Laplante sounded the death knell on the program prior to sentencing Jocelyn Cronin — a woman who graduated from the program in January but relapsed by using methamphetamine.

She originally faced at least 18 months in prison, but that was reduced to time served and she was placed on supervised home release.

Deputy U.S. Attorney Donald Feith filed a motion to revoke her home release and asked that she be sentenced to six months in prison. He argued to Laplante last week that the integrity of the LASER docket was at stake.

“The LASER program as a pre-sentencing program is effectively dead in the water,” Laplante said during the sentencing Tuesday. “There’s been no one coming into it for a long time.”

Probation officer Karin Hess argued strongly against incarceration, saying Cronin used the tools she obtained through the LASER program “to stop the relapse from really exploding.”

“I don’t think we should give up on her and throw her into jail,” Hesse said.

Cronin’s attorney, Jaye Rancourt, told Laplante that Cronin has made amazing progress in the past two years, noting that prosecutors said she had one of the most severe addictions to meth they had ever seen.

Laplante said that if there’s a problem with the LASER program he would have to fix it, but that it was not fair or just to do that through Cronin’s sentence.

“It’s deterrence,” Feith said. “It’s what judges do every day.”

After admitting he was struggling with the dilemma, Laplante placed Cronin on home confinement, saying incarceration would be “destabilizing” to her job and children.

“The LASER program really helped save my life,” Cronin said after the sentencing. “I’m really grateful to have been in it.”

Laplante sentenced Cronin to home confinement so she could keep her job and her kids.

Laplante stressed Friday that participants currently in the program are being supported and that their participation is not in jeopardy.

“They’re certainly afloat, but we are not increasing the number of candidates,” he said.