It will be interesting to see what the candidates for mayor of Laconia will have to say if they are asked about support for a new county prison. After being a part of a slug-fest over a mere 1.3 million dollar increase in the 2013 budget, it should be interesting to see how an increase of over five million dollars a year, every year into the foreseeable future, will play out.
One of the presenters Monday night, Laura Maiello, is quoted as citing a 'high rate of recidivism" as one reason to support the proposed new prison. What was glossed over was that most new incarcerations are not because of the commission of a new crime but because of violations of parole or probation. As the commissioners noted, the county rate of recidivism as actually on the decline. In other jurisdictions, community based parole and probation is supervised by a district attorney, which has led to successful outcomes. Perhaps we should consider the abilities of our own capable county attorney and examine this approach.
It is troubling that the new state prison for women has a cost authorization of thirty-eight million dollars for 224 beds, or less than $169,000 a bed, while the proposed new county prison would have a cost of at least $236,000 per bed.
Perhaps there is a need to expand and renovate the existing prison but the plan which was presented is unaffordable. We need to have an unbiased assessment of the existing physical plant before we proceed any further and the process to accommodate that evaluation needs to be fair, honest and open.
Rep. Dick Burchell
Belmont District 5