LACONIA — Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward told members of the Belknap County Jail Planning Committee last night that admissions to the county jail have increased from 994 in the year 2000 to over 1600 last year and that during the same time the average daily inmate population has shot up from 42 in 2000 to 113 last year.
He said that current capacity of the jail is 109 and that when the inmate population reaches that number there is no longer any floor space or bed space, which means that above that level the county has no choice but to ship inmates out to facilities in other counties.
Last summer there were as many as 140 inmates at the facility with 17 women prisoners housed in the gymnasium and upwards of 30 inmates were shipped to three other county correctional facilities around the state.
''When we get to April, May and June those numbers will spike and there'll be a lot higher spikes than last year. We'll have to ship them out because we have no space,'' Ward told committee members, who predicts even more inmates will be placed in other facilities in 2014 than last year..
He said that the average length of stay at the jail has gone from 15.3 days in 2000 to 37.4 last year and that whereas 150 women were admitted to the jail in 2000 there were 510 women admitted last year.
Ward said that over the years there has been only one area of reduction and that is protective custody cases, which dropped from 1,338 in 2000 to 650 last year, which he said reflects in large part a different approach to law enforcement during Laconia Bike Week.
He said that despite the best efforts to develop programs which would reduce recidivism that the space has not been available for them and the lack of programs is being felt.
''It's very difficult to run any kind of therapeutic model. You can't do it here. The inmates who need support have to go back into a mixed environment,'' said Ward.
"There's a cost of not doing programs. Our length of stay and populations are increasing because we're not doing these programs,'' said Ward, who pointed to successes such as parenting skills and education programs, as well as bracelet programs which allow for work release and a recovery court which is about to have its first graduates.
He pointed out that the bracelet program costs the released inmate $3,000 a year compared to $30,000 for keeping an inmate in jail.
He said that the jail is currently holding 33 people awaiting trial, some for murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and assault and negligent homicide, and they have to be kept separate from those who are being held for lesser crimes while serving sentences.
Ward said that an analysis of the projections made by the Bennett Report, which was used as a basis for designing a community corrections program, appear to have been on the conservative side. The report said that if jail admissions rise to the 250 per 10,000 level for the county a 240-bed facility will be needed, rather than the projected 180-bed facility.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 02:17
On Tuesday, The Daily Sun published a front page article about stolen property recovered by the Bristol Police Department that purported to be current information. If fact, the information included in the article was three years old and should not have been published at this time. We apologize to all parties mentioned in the article, and especially to Mr. Walter Gove and members of his family. — The Editor
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 02:02
BELMONT — Some two dozen members of the New Hampshire Rebellion, a group which is walking its way from Dixville Notch to Nashua in support of campaign finance reform, set out from the Belmont Park and Ride lot in Sunday morning's snowstorm on the ninth day of their journey across the state,
Led by the Dr. Lawrence Lessig, Harvard constitutional law professor, the organization started its walk in early January while paying tribute to the legacy of New Hampshire's Doris Haddock, better known as "Granny D", whose 14-month cross-country walk which started on New Year's Day, 1999, brought national recognition to her and her cause when she arrived in Washington, D.C. in 2000..
The 185-mile walk, which covers about 13 miles a day, will wrap up this Friday in Nashua with a birthday celebration for Haddock, a Laconia native who died in 2010 shortly after her 100th birthday.
''We're taking up the fight by continuing Granny D's walk,'' said Lessig, who stated the march will continue the next two years and into the New Hampshire Primary in 2016, during which every presidential candidate at every event in New Hampshire will be asked the same question. ''How are you going to end the system of corruption in Washington?''
Lessig says ''we're not talking about people who are corrupt. We're talking about a system which is corrupt. That's what polls show people think about what's wrong with campaign financing and we want to build support to change that system..''
He says that New Hampshire, due its having the first in the nation primary and with a record of being fiercely independent, also is one of the only states in the country that has an express right to revolution in its Constitution.
''That puts New Hampshire in a unique position to restore integrity, transparency and responsibility to a broken and corrupt political system,'' says Lessig, who points out that the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision has opened the floodgates for anonymous political contributions.
Among those joining the march was Olivia Zink of Franklin, who says she was inspired by the march and wanted to help out by taking part. She is the program director for the Coalition for Open Democracy, which is headquartered in Concord.
Also marching was Dan Weeks of Nashua, who attended Con-Val High School in Peterborough and says that a visit Granny D made at his high school where she talked about campaign finance reform left a lasting impression on him,
''I've always wanted to do something which could have an impact for the better on people's lives since that time and I see this at that kind of opportunity,'' Weeks said.
Yet another marcher was 58-year-old Cornelia Sargent of Claremont, who has been blind since she was 21 and still manages to run the Porter Sergeant Publishing Company put of her home. She told her fellow marchers not to worry about her and that if they thought she needed any help or guidance along the slippery highway all they would have to do was touch her right shoulder from behind to give directions.
Also lending his support, although unable due to his knees to walk long distances, was State Rep. Leigh Webb of Franklin, who said that he was heartened to see such a good turnout in bad weather and was looking forward to marchers returning and keeping the issue alive during the state's presidential primary.
CAPTIONS:Cuts Sugged granny d, 1,2,3
NH Rebellion marchers walk along Rte. 106 en route from Belmont to Canterbury Shaker Village as part of statewide walk to call attention to campaign finance reform. About two dozen marched during Sunday's snowstorm. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Harvard College Professor Dr. Lawrence Lessig talks with NH Rebellion volunteer Dan Weeks of Nashua, State Rep. Leigh Webb of Franklin and volunteer Alex Mazzola (holding sign) of Boulder, Colorado, prior to Sunday's march from the Belmont Park and Ride to Canterbury Shaker Village as part of campaign finance reform drive. (Roger Amsden photo The Laconia Daily Sun)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 12:59
CONCORD — Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) intended to dispel confusion about the taxation of recreational vehicles received a favorable reception from the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week.
"We have a crazy quilt of inconsistent treatment of recreational vehicles across the state," Forrester said. "Temporary and portable recreational vehicles were never meant to be taxed as real property and this bill would clarify that policy."
The confusion arose in the wake of two court decisions. In 1999, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that a truck trailer could be assessed and taxed as buildings "if by its use it: (1) is intended to be more or less permanent, not a temporary structure; (2) is more or less completely enclosed; (3) is used as a dwelling, storehouse, or shelter; and (4) is intended to remain stationary."
Two years later the Belknap County Superior Court applied this standard to eight trailers at the Hack-Ma-Tack Campground at The Weirs, when the City of Laconia taxed eight trailers on their property as buildings. When the owners of the campground refused to identify the owners of the trailers, the city billed them directly.
The owners of the campground, echoed by the New Hampshire Campground Association, contended that because the trailers, which remained on their axles with inflated tires, were intended for seasonal use, they were not taxable as buildings. The city countered that since the trailers were left at the campground year after year and embellished with decks, sheds and landscaping but not registered, they qualified as buildings, resembling summer camps more than traveling campers.
On the strength of the court decisions, the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) urged municipalities to apply the criteria strictly. Some did, but others did not.
Forrester said that she received calls from campground owners and municipal officials in different communities troubled by the inconsistent application of the law. In particular, she found that recreational vehicles parked at the 117 campgrounds in the state were treated differently by different municipal assessors. Some are taxed as real property while others are not. Some municipalities bill the owners of the recreational vehicles while others bill the owners of the campgrounds.
"I met with representatives of the campground owners as well as with officials from DRA to try to get some consistency," Forrester said.
Senate Bill 333 exempts recreational vehicles, as defined by statute, that do not remain in any one town, city or incorporated place for more than 45 days, unless stored or placed on a rented campsite, from property taxation. The statutory definition of a recreational vehicle includes motor homes, vans, pickup campers and tent trailers as well as recreational trailers of 400 square feet or less. The bill stipulates that recreational vehicles shall be deemed personal, not real, property and not liable to property taxation.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the bill last week and will reconvene the hearing today.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:57
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