LACONIA — New Belknap County Commissioners Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) and Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) say that they are eager to get moving with plans to develop a jail plan for the county which mirrors the approach taken in Sullivan County (Claremont), where officials ditched plans for a new $38 million county jail in 2008 and opted instead to build a $5.6 million community corrections facility.
''We were very impressed when we toured their facility and talked with the people running the programs,'' said DeVoy, who noted that among the people he and Burchell talked to was Kevin Warwick, president of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., who serves as a consultant to Sullivan County's Department of Corrections and is a recognized national leader in establishing community-based programs.
The 72-bed Sullivan County Community Corrections Center is a 20,000-square-foot facility which was built adjacent to existing county jail in Claremont in 2009. The center has 32 treatment beds, 16 work release beds and 24 beds for female offenders.
Sullivan County also spent $1.3 million on renovations at the county jail, which holds up to 100 inmates.
The corrections center provides work-release opportunities and a focus on treatment and programming for inmates close to release, and is designed to better help inmates transition back into the community.
The project, which is the first of its kind in the state, represents a new direction in the handling of inmates for the county as it concentrates efforts and resources on re-entry instead of incarceration, according to Sullivan County officials, who first discussed plans to improve facilities and programming in 2005, following a study that revealed more than 80 percent of inmates booked into the county jail required some form of treatment programming.
More than $1.3 million in grants were received by the county between 2019 and 2012 which helped pay for the programs offered at the community corrections center.
In a meeting held by Sullivan County Commissioners last October to consider the sustainability of the funding for the programs in light of the non-renewal of the Second Chance Act program, Warwick provided information which showed only a 17 percent recidivism rate for Sullivan County for those who has completed the TRAILS (Transitional Re-entry and Inmate Life Skills) program compared to 51 percent for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections and 52 percent for Carroll County.
Warwick also pointed out that the average prison population has been consistently lower than projected since the center opened, with 100 actual in 2009 compared to an estimate of 123, 99 actual in 2010 compared to an estimated 128, 105 in 2011 compared to an estimated 132, 110 in 2012 compared to an estimated 138 and 106 in 2013 compared to an estimated 143.
Belknap County Commissioners said at Thursday's meeting that they would like to see Warwick serve as a consultant to the county and have urged Belknap County House of Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward to have him on a list of possible consultants which will be presented to them when they meet on January 20.
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 527