Who should be serving a sentence at home & work?

LACONIA — Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen says that neither her office nor Belknap County Superior Court were notified of the release of a prisoner from the Belknap County Jail who was equipped with an electronic monitoring device, which negated her ability to notify victims in the case that the person was not in jail.

She said that she is concerned over the liability of the county in those kinds of cases in which she is required to notify victims.

''People have contacted me about their concerns over the release. If I don't know, then I can't make the notification,'' said Guldbrandsen.

She told Belknap County Commissioners yesterday that the case involved ''a hot button defendant, a felon who committed a crime and not someone who should be serving a sentence at home.''

Sanbornton Police Chief Steve Hankard said that he had received phone calls from residents of that community who were very upset over the release and said the county should have a process in place which would keep that from happening again.

The person was later returned to jail.

Belknap County Corrections Department Superintendent Dan Ward said, ''There were errors in department'' and acknowledged the need for better coordination at the county level.

The discussion took place on an agenda item requested by Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) regarding RSA 619, a state law which gives superintendents of county jails the authority to release prisoners for work opportunities.

He maintained in a letter to the editor in Saturday's Laconia Daily Sun that Guldbrandsen was not buying in to the anti-recidivism model being developed by the county as part of its approach to a building a new community corrections facility, which will require close cooperation of the Department of Corrections, the Restorative Justice program and County Attorney and the courts.

Ward said that there had been recent disagreements with his department and the county attorney's office which in the last few weeks ''were not on the same page,'' and he said he was looking for a procedure ''so that everyone is comfortable'' with his release recommendations.
He said that many decisions about sentencing are being made without the Department of Corrections being at the table and overlook the ability of his department to provide programs for prisoners in the short timeframe available.
He said that the DOC is trying to avoid having adversarial positions with other parts of the criminal justice system and wanted to know whether conditions set by sentences were recommendations or orders. He also said that he thinks it is the responsibility of his department to do the assessments of prisoners and that there needs to be some trust between the different parts of the criminal justice system.
Guldbrandsen said that she is a team player when it comes to the community corrections proposal and cited her work with the Recovery Court program as part of its diverse team which evaluates those charged with drug offenses.

She said that the county should adopt a written policy that would require that defendants or prisoners not be placed in home confinement until there is a court order, which would allow input from all affected departments before there is a release.

Ward noted that Guldbrandsen was a good prosecutor and was very responsive to the Recovery Court's program.

Wolfeboro Pot bust

WOLFEBORO — A Massachusetts woman was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana after being stopped for speeding on North Main Street late Saturday afternoon.

Shea Dalton, 20, of 5 Avery St., Needham was stopped at 4:46 p.m. by Sgt. Scoot Moore who smelled what he believed was the odor of marijuana wafting from inside the vehicle. Salton was released on $500 personal recognizance bail and scheduled to appear in the 3rd Circuit Court, Ossipee Division on July 1.

Reborn Wyatt Park celebrated on Saturday

LACONIA — Some three dozen people joined city officials on Saturday to celebrate the official reopening of the popular Wyatt Park, which recently underwent its first major renovation in some 40 years.

The improvements to the South End park, which represent an investment of $75,000, were initiated by residents of the neighborhood after disturbances and incidents of vandalism led neighbors to shun the park and request increased police presence.

Beginning in 2012 there were a number of well attended public meetings and several conceptual designs. City Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) requested an appropriation of $50,000 to renovate the park. The Department of Public Works invested $15,000 in relocating a crosswalk, rebuilding a sidewalk, installing new curbing and paving nearby streets. HEAL (Heathy Eating Active Living) NH awarded the city a grant of $10,000 toward reviving the park.

The basketball court, a centerpiece of the park, was resurfaced and lined for hop-scotch, foursquare and pickle ball as well as basketball. Four light poles and new fencing were erected to enhance security. A water fountain was installed and the pavilion was renovated. New playground equipment A walking path was built around the perimeter of the park and additional green space was created.

Kevin Dunleavy, director of park sand recreation, said that if funding becomes available additional playground equipment, a picnic shelter and volleyball court could be added to the park. Mayor Ed Engler said that he would like to see more grass in the park, which he noted is just a budget issue.

Sally Perino, president of the Wyatt Park Association, who some neighborhood children believe owns the park, expressed her appreciation to the city for its investment. As an across the street neighbor, she has enjoyed the park for the past 44 years and recalled when it was the hub of the neighborhood, a venue for street festivals, wedding ceremonies and birthday parties as well as recreational activities.

"It's a family park again," remarked Amy Lovisek, deputy director of Parks and Recreation.

Engler attributed the success of the renovation to the advocacy of those like Perino, who urged city officials to reinvest in the park, which Dunleavy said has always been a popular attraction for not only residents of the South End but also the entire city.