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Our county attorney is not buying into the anti-recidivism model

To The Daily Sun,

With regard to the Belknap County jail, what a long, strange trip it's been. When the jail was allowed to deteriorate for four years under the leadership of three prior commissioners, the people of the county were told that it would cost $40 million dollars to build a replacement, and that an additional $20 million or so new correctional officers would be needed to staff it.

Over time, a new corrections model was identified in Sullivan County, which model demonstrated astounding success in reducing recidivism.

Under new leadership, Belknap County investigated the underpinnings of the Sullivan County model and hired the same consultant used there to guide our process. Another in a series of meetings will be held on Monday, June 1. Many of those with an interest in criminal justice will participate in this conference to help chart Belknap County's future.

It has been apparent for quite a while that Belknap's County Attorney does not accept the Sullivan County model as "best practice". When visiting their facility in Union, and later at a meeting of the jail superintendent, assistant county attorney, defense attorneys and others, it was most apparent that all of the people involved shared respect for one another and that all were dedicated to an anti-­recidivism model. That model has seen those arrested for a new offense plummet from about 60 percent to less than 20 percent.

Belknap's County Attorney is elected and follows her own script in deciding county policy. She has consistently challenged the direction of county corrections in implementing, where appropriate, electronic home confinement and work release for those incarcerated. She has lost some of these challenges but "won" an alarming victory this week from Belknap Superior Court. This ruling negated a decision by the superintendent of the jail to allow a sentenced offender to work and to wear an electronic monitoring device. This device tracks not only physical location but can detect drug or alcohol use. While this defendant may continue to work, her address will be the county jail.

Giving a County Attorney veto power over decisions made by those charged with rehabilitation of prisoners flies in the face of RSA 619. This statute gives the jail superintendent the authority to appropriately give those sentenced the chance to work and to be supervised by electronic monitoring. If it is not honored by our legal system then I believe the expensive programming which Belknap County has been contemplating should not be provided.

Should Belknap County build a "soft" facility where the construction is geared not to maximum security but to engaging prisoners in constructive programming, building their work and personal skill sets and providing evidence based treatment or should we merely fix the existing jail and provide a separate pod for women?

We are coming close to making this decision and for that reason, while I disagree with the County Attorney and the Superior Court, I am glad to have the latest ruling before any more dollars are expended on the anti­recidivism model. That model does work, as has been amply demonstrated in Sullivan County, but it does not work without the shared commitment of all involved in its implementation.

Dick Burchell

Belknap County Commissioner

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Lots of folks responsible for WOW Ball raising about $36,000

To the Daily Sun,

The 12th annual WOW Sweepstakes Ball was held at the Lake Opechee Inn & Conference Center on Saturday, May 16, and was another great evening of food, fun, dancing and more. Congratulations to our 10 cash prize winners and Grand Prize co-winners Alice Mowery and Pam Downey.

We write this letter to thank and acknowledge the individuals and businesses for their generous contributions and support of the WOW Trail. We are grateful that the WOW Trail has gained such widespread support from our community.

The proceeds from this year's WOW Sweepstakes Ball — approximately $35,000 — will be used for the continued expansion and on-going maintenance of the trail. We are preparing to build Phase 2, which will extend the trail from downtown and connect to Belmont's first section of trail.

Many thanks to all who bought a ticket to this fundraising event. We were again delighted by the tremendous turnout ... and our 12th sell-out! (Mark your calendars for next year ... Saturday, May 14).

The event committee includes Allan & Jennifer Beetle, Jeff & Wendy Beetle (Patrick's), Susan Brown (Lakes Region Floral Studio), Megan Page (Patrick's), Darcy Peary (LRGHealthcare), and Judi Taggart (community member). This committee of volunteers did an absolutely awesome job of putting together one of the most fun and exciting events here in the Lakes Region. Jeff Beetle and crew prepared a delicious buffet for 500 people. Big Cat Coffee, Sawyer's Dairy Bar and Annie's Café & Catering finished the job with delicious coffee, ice cream and cakes.

We thank all our event sponsors and contributors listed below, for without them, it wouldn't happen. In particular, we thank our presenting sponsor Meredith Village Savings Bank and our Gold Sponsors: Melcher & Prescott Insurance, Lake Opechee Inn & Conference Center and Patrick's Pub & Eatery.

603 Brewery, All Brite Cleaning & Restoration, Amoskeag Beverages, Angels in the Attic, Annie's Café & Catering, AutoServ Dealerships, Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, Beans & Greens Farm, Belknap EDC, Beyond the Fringe, Big Cat Coffees, Binnie Media, Body Design by Joy, Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Co., Café Déjà vu, Children's Dentistry of the Lakes Region, Contigiani's Catering, Crazy Gringo, El Jimador, Emily Clement-Life Coach.

Also: Fire Clean-up Services, Franklin Savings Bank, Fratello's Italian Grille, Funspot, Gail Beane Graphics, Gator Signs, General Linen, Granite State Glass, Guiseppe's Pizzeria & Ristorante, Gunstock Mountain Resort, H&M Towing, Hair Factory, Hannaford – Gilford, Hart's Turkey Farm, Headliners Comedy Club, Horizon Beverages, InnSeason Resorts, Irwin Automotive Group, Irwin Marine, Laconia Athletic & Swim Club, Laconia T-Bone's & Cactus Jack's, Lahey Landscaping, Lake Opechee Inn & Conference Center, Lakes Region Airport Shuttle, Lakes Region Association, Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Lakes Region Coca-Cola, Lakes Region Floral Studio, LRGHealthcare.

Also: Marriott Towneplace Suites - Gilford, Martignetti Companies of NH, Massage Therapy & Hypnosis by Nancy Lee, MC Cycle & Sport, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Mill Falls at the Lake, Nails by Shelly, NASWA Resort, New England Wood Pellets, New Hampshire Distributors, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, O'Du's Hair Salon, Patrick's Pub & Eatery, Piche's Ski & Sports Shops, Pike Industries, Robert Allan Clifford Photography, Salmon Press, Sawyer's Dairy Bar, Shaw's Markets, Shooters Tavern & Pizzeria, Steele Hill Resorts, Steven J. Smith & Associates, Stratham Tire, Subway.

Also: Tanger Outlet, The Citizen of Laconia, The Country Carriage, The Fitness Edge, The Golf Club at Patrick's Place, The Laconia Daily Sun, The Margate on Winnipesaukee, The Weirs Times, Trustworthy Hardware, Tylergraphics, U Frame We Frame, Uniformly Yours, WFTN Mix 94.1FM.

In your travels, we ask that you take a moment to thank these people and organizations for their generous contributions to this exciting project.

Darcy Peary, Chair

Megan Page, Co-Chair

and the entire WOW Trail Board of Directors

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