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.
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