To The Daily Sun,
As a member of the Belknap County Community Corrections/Jail Planning Committee, I felt it necessary to respond to the recent letter submitted by David DeVoy of Sanbornton, who proposed what he calls a "Smart Plan" for the critical issues we are facing at the County Jail and House of Correction. I should note that these views are mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those who have served and are currently serving on the committee, nor do I speak for the commissioners.
I have great respect for Mr. DeVoy and like him personally, but quite frankly, his plan is not a viable solution.
I have served as sheriff for seven years and our staff interacts with the jail on a daily basis. I have worked in a law enforcement capacity in this county for over 30 years, and so I believe that I am competent to offer an opinion here.
So, let's break down Mr. DeVoy's "plan" by his own bullet points:
1. The current jail facility is beyond repair or restoration. Several experts affirmed that the current building, sections of which are very old, it is not suitable for cost-effective renovation. The committee proposed replacing the HVAC system with one that could be transferred to new construction. The Belknap County Delegation has rejected that. They also rejected a proposal to bring in secure, temporary housing to alleviate the overcrowding issues. In the meantime, as we approach the summer months, the facility is an unhealthy and very unpleasant place for inmates, visitors, and staff.
2. Placing a larger number of defendants on electronic monitoring (GPS bracelets) is not as simple as it sounds. Neither the county commissioners nor the superintendent of corrections controls the demographics, classification, or conditions of the sentences of anyone who comes to our jail. The superintendent has limited authority to place sentenced inmates on furlough or work release. The reality is that many of these individuals are in jail because they made very bad choices and they require close supervision, monitoring, and intensive counseling. Simply putting an inmate with serious mental health and/or substance abuse issues back in the community too soon can be a mistake that results in rapid recidivism.
A so-called "non-violent" offender may be the one that breaks into your home and steals your property. Or, they may remove their bracelet and flee the area, resulting in a costly and potentially dangerous search to return them to custody.
3. The current administrative wing at the county complex, which includes the large public meeting room that is utilized frequently, was renovated recently and is nowhere near as spacious as Mr. DeVoy suggests (please feel free to stop by and take a tour for yourself). It was originally part of the old Nursing Home and was never designed to be a jail facility for female inmates, many of whom pose serious security concerns. The cost of retrofitting office space to a secure, disconnected area of this complex and relocating the administrative area to the Superior Court building would be substantial.
4. The offices in the administrative wing would be quickly consumed with residential space for inmates if Mr. DeVoy's plan were to come to fruition. His suggestion that there would be ample room for useful programs and educational classes is not realistic as we look toward the future. The female inmate population in our facility has been has high as 28 in the recent past and is only expected to increase. Quite frankly, Mr. DeVoy's proposal is the equivalent of placing a bandage on a severed artery. It is not going to solve our problem, even for the short term. Furthermore, it is unfortunate that the majority of our state representatives made the choice to kick the proverbial can down the road. This situation is not going away and the next county delegation and commissioners will be forced to deal with it.
The only alternative suggested by any of our representatives was from delegation Chair Colette Worsman, who says we should simply close the jail and send our inmates to other facilities. This suggestion quite frankly, is ludicrous. There is no guarantee that other jails would accept our inmates on a daily basis for the long term, nor are they obligated to do so. The logistics and costs of transporting inmates to and from other facilities and subsequently all over the state would be astronomical. Is it practical, or even lawful to expect every law enforcement agency in Belknap County to drive to another county jail in the middle of the night and leave their jurisdictions with their arrests? The legal barriers and liability issues here are highly problematic to say the least.
Rep. Herb Vadney agrees that the HVAC system (and the jail) need to be replaced, criticizes the proposed plan, but has offered no alternative except to spend less money. As Rep. David Huot correctly pointed out, the vacuum of leadership in the current delegation, the majority of which chose to do nothing and at the same time blame the committee and the commissioners simply because they don't like what they hear, will only serve to cost taxpayers money in the long run.
Lastly, Mr. DeVoy and Rep. Richard Burchell, both of whom are running for county commissioner, have each publicly stated that the committee and commissioners have tossed out irresponsible threats, suggesting that our jail is a lawsuit or federal court action in the making. It is a stark fact that this sort of situation has happened in other regions of the country and costly litigation is exactly what can result from overcrowded and unsafe jails. Rep. Burchell, in his never-ending quest to get in the last word, has written several times about this issue, most recently criticizing the views of Rep. Huot, one of the members of this delegation who truly understands the extent of the problem.
Mr. DeVoy went so far as to say that the committee members and the commissioners seem delighted by the potential for legal action. If Mr. DeVoy and Rep. Burchell had attended the numerous meetings and listened to (or better yet participated in) the discussions surrounding the dire nature of our jail crisis, perhaps they would understand that this is of grave concern to every member of the committee and that none of us likes the situation with which we are faced.
What we are hearing and reading from some of those currently in office and those running for important elected positions in Belknap County is not real leadership and does not represent what the future of our correctional facility should be going forward.
Belknap County Sheriff
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:49
To The Daily Sun,
Thanks to Senator Jeb Bradley for sponsoring SB-120 and Rep. Bob Perry for introducing the companion bill, HB-392. SB-120 is the "Disclosure Bill" that requires full and timely reporting of campaign expenditures, revealing outside groups' "dark money" spent to influence elections, usually with those gloomy TV ads that cast a pall on the other party's candidates.
What didn't succeed was SB-307, as introduced by Senator Martha Fuller Clark. New Hampshire would join the growing list of states calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the disastrous effects of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision. Fifty-three town meetings voted for this in March and May, including eight in our Sen. Jeanie Forrester's District 2. SB-307 explicitly recognized "the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling and related cases" and created a committee of legislators to "make recommendations to the New Hampshire congressional delegation as to which approaches, if any, the delegation should support."
In committee, Senator Bradley gutted SB-307 by removing the call for a constitutional amendment.
Republican Senator Prescott honorably supported restored language -— but the Senate on near party lines passed the toothless bill. The House restored the original language and intent of SB-307, then passed it by a bipartisan margin of more than two to one. But SB-307 died in a House/Senate conference committee when Senator Bradley again rejected the original language calling for a constitutional amendment.
Granny D, roll over in your grave. People spoke; politics ruled. Our Senator Jeanie Forrester didn't vote for the constitutional amendment language, either. Senator Bradley did shuffle-along leadership and she followed like a puppy. SB-307's killers value those incoming big bucks more than they value clean elections, as Granny D named the goal in her campaign.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:44
To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to the Honorable Carol Shea-Porter:
Thank you for your last newsletter. The citizens of New Hampshire are grateful for your representation.
However, I have been told that if someone is not told that something they are doing is wrong, they will keep on doing it, thinking that all is well.
Unfortunately, all is NOT well in our federal government. First of all, you mentioned that the economy has improved. In fact, our Gross National Product has decreased in the last six months. Increasing the minimum wage will only turn business owners away from hiring new employees. In fact, I can see where owners may pay employees under the table a lesser wage, then nothing will be reported to the government. Isn't that a possibility?
You complained about the VA. Isn't that a government-run bureaucracy? It just shows me one more thing the government can't seem to do right. H.R. 1980 was a good move, however, my concern is that doctors will drop those patients like they do Medicaid patients.
Thank you for calling Social Security "earned benefits" since the government took our money, and supposedly put it aside for retirement. But where is it now? What? The government spent it on other things? Thank goodness for our (robust) economy that will restore our benefits.
Representative, I am impressed by the number of "acts" you are introducing and voting for. My question is, how much do all these "acts" and "bills" cost the tax payer? My concern is that the Executive Branch is not enforcing the legislation you are producing, but creating its own legislation. Are you doing anything about that?
Hoping to hear from you,
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:36
To The Daily Sun,
What is the GOP doing?
Are they working for us and the country or just trying to impeach the president? Personally, I think they just want to impeach the president.
Committee after committee they sit around pointing fingers while trying to justify blame. All this while earning a hefty salary from our tax dollars. The laughable part of this is few of them need the salary.
Take Issa for example. He is, reputedly the richest of the GOP. New worth of around $450 million. Not bad for an admitted Nixon security aide liar, three-time car thief and almost convicted arsonist. But he got away with it all and now has lots of power and an attitude. You can almost feel him thinking how much better he is than you are and there is nothing you can do about it.
The GOP figures the more they lie about Obama, the more you will dislike him and his party and will vote them out in the next elections. We all do know that the only thing the GOP does protect is the Romney 1 percent and they don't care a hoot about you. You are like an fly on their arm. They will slap you down and you won't be able to get back up.
They love it when you have to depend on government handouts because they are in control of you. They will complain about your type because it will make others dislike you even more. In war it would be called divide and conquer, but in politics it is a way to gain control, more power and cash. This is why nothing has been done by the GOP the last few years. Jobs and the economy, social programs, equal rights, immigration reform, voting rights, environmental issues, etc. are all Democratic ideas so the GOP will stay as far as possible away from them.
The only things they are doing are delay tactics. Trying to repeal Obamacare 50 times, talking about impeaching Obama, Boehner wants to sue him for something, any scandal or even inventing one, numerous committees talking gibberish. They will try to delay until the next election and hope to win, and if they do we all will be in trouble.
Forget about any social programs coming from D.C. Remember it was the GOP who got us into this mess by their reckless spending in the Middle East after convincing us with numerous lies. We shouldn't let it happen again.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:35
To The Daily Sun,
Most Americans know that illegal immigration hurts Americans and want our immigration laws enforced. However, illegal immigration benefits the Washington political class, so President Obama, like several presidents before him, doesn't seriously enforce our immigration laws.
President Obama exacerbated our illegal immigration problem by announcing that he won't enforce our laws against "young people". Now young people from around the world believe that President Obama welcomes them to come here illegally.
Previously, most illegal aliens were adults who avoided border agents. But President Obama's announcements have enticed many tens of thousands of children to accept the dangers (e.g., illness, death, rape, enslavement) of traveling hundreds of miles to come here illegally.
Young and unaccompanied children cannot care for themselves and need help upon arrival. Even though the administration anticipated this flood of illegals six months ago, our border patrol and support agencies have been overwhelmed. Tired, weak, and often sick children are crowded into filthy, smelly rooms with inadequate furniture, sanitation, ventilation, and health facilities (so bad that no photos are allowed).
Now illegal aliens are being sent around the country and released into the public. Some illegal aliens bring into our unprepared communities dangerous, highly communicable, and sometimes drug resistant diseases that are unknown in the US or were eradicated decades ago.
President Obama has created this new humanitarian crisis, not to benefit the American people, but to advance his own personal objectives. President Obama's actions are directly responsible for every death, every rape, every child sold into slavery, every American who becomes sick or a victim of a crime or accident caused by an illegal alien, every family that struggles because illegal aliens take their jobs or lower their wages, and everyone who struggles to pay their high taxes that fund the costs of President Obama's failure to enforce our immigration laws.
In pursuit of his personal objectives, President Obama willingly sacrifices the health, safety, and wishes of the American people and the safety of the people, including children, that he entices to come here illegally.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 09:26