LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners will hold a meeting Monday morning in which they will seek input from all parts of the county's criminal justice system on the kinds of programs which will be needed at a proposed new community corrections facility.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that the meeting will get underway at 8 a.m. and may last as long as three hours.
Among those who have accepted invitations to take part in the meeting is New Hampshire Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau, who is expected to talk about changes in the state's criminal justice system which will see felony cases go directly to Superior Court, bypassing Circuit Courts, as well as other changes designed to bring cases to resolution more quickly.
DeVoy said that Kevin Warwick and Ross Cunningham of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc. who have developed a plan for community corrections facility for the county, will take part in the discussions. They have been retained by the commissioners to work with the county in developing a schematic design for a 64-bed community facility.
Preliminary estimates place the cost, as well as renovations to the existing Belknap County Jail, at around $7 million. The facility would have 30 treatment beds, 20 for men and 10 for women, and 34 work release beds, 24 for men and 10 for women.
The new facility would be built next to the current jail and connected to it through a newly created control room. It would contain 22,327-square-feet and a suggested addition which would include a small 2,500-square-foot gym, 1,500-square-feet of administrative space — all of which would bring the total space to just over 27,000-square-feet.
DeVoy said that after the morning session the commission will take a lunch break and then hold a regular commission meeting in the afternoon at which they will open bids from two architectural firms for a schematic design for the proposed facility.
DeVoy has said that he hopes to bring a bond issue for around $7 million to the Belknap County Convention for approval before the year ends in order to build the new facility, which is modeled on a similar one built in Sullivan County (Claremont) in 2008.
DeVoy said that the yearly payment on a bond issue of that size would be around $550,000, which the county could handle without a tax increase as bonds which are currently costing $600,000 a year in principal and interest payments will be retired in the near future.
One of the key elements of the community corrections plan is the creation of programs to help ease the transition back into the community of released inmates and the involvement of all elements of the criminal justice system in that process says DeVoy.
He says that he is hoping to get all those involved in law enforcement and the county criminal justice system on the same page when it comes to the programs which will be created at the new facility.
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