To The Daily Sun,
The following is an open letter to the new Bellknap County Commission and each one will be sent a copy:
Recidivism and Rehabilitation:
Despite the many different views on the success or failure of rehabilitation programs in the prisons, the extreme cost to the taxpayers for many programs must be considered, as well as the type of programs best suited to fit smaller budgets. What works in one state or city or town may not be the answer for another. Later in this piece I will offer a few suggestions knowing there are many more out there, and all should be considered.
A decade or so ago, with prison reforms and rehabilitation programs in place, the U.S. prison population went from 150,000 to 2.3 million today. This is 1/4 of world's prison population. 80 percent of the 2.3 million are for non-violent offenses, often drug related crimes.*
Today the U.S. spends more than $80 billion a year on its criminal justice system. New York, California and Florida spend more on keeping people in prison than they do on higher education. For example, in California it costs $45,000.00 a year to keep a prisoner in jail, while it only costs $15,000.00 to send a person to the State University System.*
To make matters worse, the overall recidivism rate in the U.S. is around 67 percent.*
(*These facts from James Jiler "Solutions" dated 6/21/13.)
We should consider the number and types of cases that are committed to the system. Nonviolent crimes must be looked at with probation sentences with mandatory rehab programs during probation, and again, rehab programs for inmates while in prison, rather than extending their time after sentence is done.
Other suggestions have been learning job skills while incarcerated, and one thing that we here in Belknap County could do is gardening and farming. This is something we did for years, and the food for the prison and county nursing home could easily be raised on the property or the state prison property. The working out-of-doors is beneficial to health and proper diets which in itself is a rehab tool. This helps prisoners and at same time cuts some of the costs. We had prisoners on work programs outside the jail that aided the county's cities and towns with road work, and park duties, thus saving cities and towns some money. This program could be brought back and expanded even more. At the same time doing a good day's work rather than sitting all day in a cell or looking at TV gives a person self-esteem and a feeling of doing something good. Positive thoughts of one's self are far more beneficial to future thoughts and behavior than the negative ones gotten by lack of physical exercise and exercises the mind as well.
Nonviolent prisoners who receive probation rather than jail time might be able to not only do mandatory rehab programs but participate in vo-tech programs if qualified. The number of beds needed would be fewer if they were on probation.
The other problem is the great number of mentally ill persons being imprisoned rather than in mental health facilities or supervision. The county and state should be allocating funding and spaces for these people. Rehab programs in prisons won't cure the mentally ill. There is apparently federal money in the pipeline and the county should be working to see the state get their share and let it trickle down to the local level.
The point is, there are as many solutions out there as there are problems. Throwing money at it hasn't proven to be the panacea to what is successful. Don't forget that after prisoners are released, the communities to which they return will still be on the hook for most of them for housing, food stamps, and welfare. So, the money drain never stops and the numbers from U.S. News (4/22/14) show that 67.8 percent are arrested within three years of release and 76.7 percent of that number, within five years . Of the 76.6 percent, more than one third are arrested in the first six months of release and more than half by the end of first year are sent back to prison despite the rehabilitation programs. A PEW study notes that despite new programs there is only marginal improvement in recidivism rate even though spending increased to $80 billion from $30 billion a decade ago.
I am asking the new commission to consider all of the above as well as many other ideas that are floated and do what is best for both the prison system and its inmates as well as for the people and taxpayers of the county. If the budget is too high, it will mean ALL communities in the county will pay above what they can afford and that means cutting roads, schools, police and fire departments.
There will be other points of view on this and they deserve consideration as well, but this is one side based on facts that makes a convincing point. Let's get on with it and rebuild a safe and functional Prison with programs that don't require multiple new employees.
Councilor Ward 4
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 08:47
To The Daily Sun,
Just thought that I would tell you what happened when I tried to take an Election Day Notice off of my front door that was left for me yesterday... it was a notice to "remind me to vote.".... after 20 minutes and a half a bottle of Goo Gone, I finally got it off at 7:30 this morning.
These political people should not be doing this and defacing private property. I am not the only one that this has happened to. I did place a complaint over the phone this morning, but of course got a recording. Maybe they should be be the ones to remove and clean up any mess that they leave behind from now on.
This is unacceptable.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 08:42
To The Daily Sun,
I grew up in Gilford and Laconia. Those towns hold a dear place in my memory and always will. My family is still there and even though I moved away to Texas in the mid-'80s I get the pleasure of being able to go back and visit. I am devastated on hearing the recent events that have occurred just in this past week. A total of five heroin/drug overdoses.
This cannot be the first alarm that has sounded off. You do not need this e-mail to tell you something is seriously wrong. I know you know. I have gone over what you all have implemented in the past two years to try to get ahead of this epidemic. In your statistics I suppose you believe it is effective. I do not believe you are targeting the groups that are the core of the problem. This addiction is serious problem, and from what I have been told — and please correct me if I am wrong — there is not an actual long-term facility in Laconia.
Heroin addiction from what I studied is not a three-day fix. Nor is it for people that do not have insurance. Most of your cases are going to be the age of 18 years to 40. This is your working force. Many are on welfare, unemployed etc. due to this addiction. Eventually they will end up in one of these categories if they are working. The number is growing.
Does this concern you enough to change your thought process of what is really needed? Someone has to get aggressive. Having meetings that the real addicts will not attend unless court ordered will continually go nowhere. I would recommend you find a facility in town where these sick residents can get real help — long-term help. You will have to seek emergency funds to staff, house, educate and treat these sick residents. Reach out for volunteers. This is not going away.
As for welfare recipients, there must be a way to test monthly in order to qualify for benefits. Organize fundraisers, auctions, job fairs, anything to help fund this facility which is very much needed. The job fairs will also be an important area to concentrate on. Give the local business incentive to hire these residents that you will work endlessly to get better, so they have job to go to. Or maybe that person who has not been able to find work and is thinking that drugs are a way to escape the miserable situation they are in.
This town has to stand up and start screaming, screaming loud. Eventually you will see a domino effect. Younger families will be afraid to stay in fear of their children going down that path. New business will shy away due to the reputation that is starting to haunt this town. Vacationers will keep hearing of this disease plaguing the city and will no longer feel safe. It's going to happen, the town will slowly start dying economically.
If this is one person's thoughts 3,000 miles away, times me by thousands. Social media is very powerful and this news is already spreading all over the U.S. just in my group alone. There needs to be a group, a task force to heal this community. You do not have a lot of time, this will spread like any other disease and just get worse if you do not take immediate action. This can be controlled if the right programs are put in place, what you are doing now is not working. You have to find the solution and find it quickly. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it falls in the right ears. Scream, Laconia, scream!
Tia M. Rodriguez
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 08:33
To The Daily Sun,
I am a 15-year-old Catholic girl, and Bishop Paul W. Blake's opinion on Halloween I found ridiculous.
He claimed that Halloween has been corrupted and that church should have nothing to do with it. Is this not exactly the opposite of what we should do? Aren't we called as Christians to be in the world, but not of it?
So some people have polluted the celebration, but isn't that what humans do, being sinful beings? We mess stuff up. That doesn't mean we should give up completely. But turning off your lights and hiding in your home is the exact opposite of what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to go out and show the world what a wonderful gift we have in His salvation.
My parents have never encouraged the gory or creepy costumes, but encouraged us to be creative and fun with our garb. And the tradition of carving pumpkins and going trick-or-treating will be memories that stick with me forever.
In short, Bishop Paul, I can somewhat understand your point, but you do not realize the facts. I have participated in every Halloween as long as I can remember and I have never done anything that would be shameful to God. I do not mean to offend, but I can't help but feel sorry for the children you "restrict" from these innocent festivities.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 08:30
To The Daily Sun,
As voters in Senate District 7 go to the polls today, I hope they will reflect on the outstanding representation they have had by state Sen. Andrew Hosmer over the past two years.
Sen. Hosmer understands the impact of every vote he takes. He spends the time to talk to constituents about their views on the issues and takes real people into consideration as he weighs his position on an issue.
As a local businessman, Sen. Hosmer is in a unique position to argue for the best business climate possible for the state of New Hampshire and for Senate District 7.
As a parent, Sen. Hosmer knows how critical it is that New Hampshire's education system provide the best possible opportunities for all the students in the state.
As someone who takes full advantage of the recreational opportunities available in New Hampshire, Sen. Hosmer knows it is crucial to protect our natural resources and spectacular New Hampshire environment.
Please return Sen. Andrew Hosmer to the New Hampshire Senate today.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 November 2014 12:15