Prison and Justice Reporting

An ongoing series of stories on New Hampshire's criminal justice system, with a focus on the experience of those people moving through the state's corrections system. 

Visit N.H. Bar Foundation at nhbarfoundation.org.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

Negotiators have reached agreement on a proposal to eliminate cash bail for most New Hampshire offenders. The plan won strong support from lawmakers but was reworked to address concerns of prosecutors and police.

Senate Bill 556 aimed to eliminate cash bail for people charged with misdemeanors so long as a judge ruled them not dangerous. In its current form, the elimination of bail with cash or conditions would only apply to Class B misdemeanors, crimes which carry no jail time.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A proposed constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law failed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives on Thursday, despite a well-organized and well-financed effort by supporters.

The amendment would have created a list of constitutional rights designed to give crime victims a greater say in the court system. 

The Carroll County Sheriff’s department is investigating the death of a young woman last week in the county jail.

Twenty-four year-old Nikole Coe was facing charges related to the sale of drugs that resulted in a death.

Coe died on the afternoon of April 3, according to Carroll County Corrections Superintendent Jason Henry. That’s the day jury selection was scheduled to begin on her trial. 

A proposal to amend the state constitution is stirring debate among lawmakers and legal experts in New Hampshire.

The so-called Marsy’s Law amendment would insert specific rights for crime victims into the state constitution.

As NHPR’s Jason Moon reports, a well-financed campaign has brought the same debate to more than a dozen other states at the same time.

N.H. Judge Reduces Sentence of Juvenile Lifer

Jan 30, 2018
Dean Shalhoup/ The Telegraph/POOL

The first of New Hampshire’s inmates given life sentences without parole as juveniles has been granted a chance at release.

A new poll shows widespread support in New Hampshire for a constitutional amendment that would give crime victims more say in courtroom proceedings.

According to the poll, 85 percent of New Hampshire voters would support a constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law.

The amendment would require that victims be notified of all court proceedings involving their offender. It would also give them the right to be heard in things like sentencing hearings or plea deal negotiations.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu and a bipartisan group of legislators will officially kickoff the campaign for a new amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution at the State House on Tuesday.

Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

A former doctor at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester is surrendering his medical license after facing accusations of substandard care in the treatment of inmates.

During his seven years overseeing care at the facility, Dr. Matthew Masewic faced a number of federal lawsuits and complaints over his handling of inmate medical needs.

Those included claims that he failed to sign off on needed medications for inmates, failed to maintain adequate medical records and failed to supervise nursing staff.

FILE

The number of prison inmates testing positive for drugs in New Hampshire is going down.

Around this time last year, 27 percent of drug tests came back positive. New data from the Department of Corrections says now, that's down to 11 percent.

N.H.'s Commissioner of Corrections is Resigning

Aug 23, 2017
FILE

The head of the state’s Department of Corrections is stepping down.

www.BackgroundNow.com / Flickr/Creative Commons

A former Portsmouth investment adviser will serve 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty for defrauding a client of $2 million dollars. The high-profile case had been scheduled for trial this month.

CREDIT CREDIT MIKECOGH VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

An attorney representing a group of female prisoners says he's considering reactivating a lawsuit against the state after further delays in the opening of a new women's prison in Concord.

File photo

Under U.S. Supreme Court decisions, five inmates serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles in New Hampshire are getting a chance at eventual release.

The rulings affect five men sentenced to life in New Hampshire. They are Eduardo Lopez, Robert Dingman, Robert Tulloch, Michael Soto and Steven Spader. Altogether, they were convicted in the deaths of four men and three women who were fatally shot or stabbed between 1991 and 2009.

Update: Manchester City Solicitor, Tom Clark, announced his resignation Friday afternoon. 

Manchester city officials met with the city solicitor and the attorney general’s office Friday to discuss an investigation into Manchester City Solicitor’s office. The meeting was held to discuss quote “corrective action” and “potential terminations.” None of the parties present agreed to discuss the meeting.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The New Hampshire parole board plays a key role in the state’s criminal justice system. Its nine members decide which inmates get out on parole, and which parolees return to prison. Although parole hearings are open to the public, they take place with little oversight or public scrutiny. And, unlike most legal proceedings, they can be surprisingly unrefined affairs.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Nine months ago, Joyce Chance left a refugee camp in Uganda where she had spent the last eleven years. Chance, who was born in Congo, boarded a plane with her two kids, and came to the United States.

A refugee resettlement agency in Concord, New Hampshire picked them up at the airport, and moved them into a one-room apartment.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Manchester Bishop Peter Libasci spent an hour visiting immigrants detained at the Strafford County Jail in Dover on Monday.

The decision to visit the jail came after the Bishop  met with a parish in Manchester on Sunday with many Hispanic congregants. That Parish, St Anne-St. Augustin, had sought to protect undocumented immigrants living in the neighborhood by proclaiming itself a, quote, “sanctuary church.”

The Bishop responded last month with a letter urging Catholic churches against such proclamations.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

A couple years ago, Manchester police lieutenant Nicole LeDoux and two colleagues decided to crunch some numbers. They found that in a single year, 400 Manchester kids had been at either domestic violence incidents or overdoses when police were called.  LeDoux is a fast talker who oversees the juvenile and domestic violence units. “I remember sitting,” she said, “and being like ‘man, that’s a lot of kids. How do we deal with that?’” 

N.H. Inmates Build Bonds With Their Kids - Through Reading

Mar 17, 2017
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

For parents serving time behind bars, remaining close with their kids can be difficult.

But one nonprofit works to help connect inmates in New Hampshire with their children simply through reading.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

New Hampshire correctional officers have declared an impasse in contract negotiations with the Governor’s office.  The Teamsters Union, which represents the officers, say the Governor isn’t doing enough to end years of excessive overtime for staff in the state’s prisons.   

What the parties do seem to agree on is that prisons are critically understaffed. At his budget address last month, Governor Chris Sununu said “we are going to be aggressive and fully fund our corrections system to end the pattern of forced overtime and personnel shortfalls.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

In March of 2016, 26 year-old Jeffrey Pendleton died inside a Manchester, New Hampshire jail. Pendleton was a homeless African-American man charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. He remained in the Valley Street jail while awaiting trial because he couldn't afford to pay $100 in bail.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Michael Treadwell sat at the back of a courtroom.  In a windbreaker and khaki pants, he leaned over his work boots, elbows on his knees. At first, I thought he was chewing gum – a bold choice in a courtroom.  When we began to talk, I discovered it wasn't gum Michael was chewing.  It was his own gums. Michael doesn't have any teeth.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

As immigration officials ramp up deportation of new classes of unauthorized immigrants, more residents and visitors without documents fear run-ins with police.

On New Hampshire's diverse Southern border, a traffic stop in one town could lead to very different consequences than the same kind of stop one town over.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

There’s to be no more kissing, and no hugs lasting more than three seconds in New Hampshire’s prison visiting rooms as of this week. The policy change is part of an effort to curb rampant drug smuggling into the prison.

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