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.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Radio host, writer and historian Louis "Studs" Terkel was known for intimate oral histories of ordinary people—a collection of previously unheard recordings from his landmark 1974 book Working—revealing how regular Americans viewed their jobs four decades ago, and how that's changed.

On today’s show, The Working Tapes. Plus, the real cost of a mug shot. Police station photos of someone arrested for a crime are considered public record by the American justice system. They're also a multi-million dollar source of revenue for internet scammers.

We’ll also hear about a podcast that looks at Harry Potter as a sacred text. 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  The Supreme Court has ordered comprehensive written briefs containing details of victim Lizzi Marriott’s sexual past will remain sealed during Seth Mazzaglia’s appeal proceedings.  However, attorneys’ oral arguments will remain open to the public – and apparently unrestricted. The justices also did not restrict the content of their written opinion.

A jury convicted Mazzaglia of murder in 2014. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 The city of Manchester has won a $25,000 prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for cultivating what the foundation calls a “culture of health.” 

Manchester is one of seven communities to receive the prize, out of nearly 200 applicants. 

kento via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/89fdMQ

In states all across the country, the days of pot prohibition are coming to an end. Today, critics say new regulations favor so-called the "Walmart weed" industry and put the squeeze on home growers.

Plus, Derrick Hamilton has never been to law school - but that hasn't stopped him from filing federal complaints against inhumane treatment of inmates, and helping others obtain hearings. He also fought the wrongful that put him in jail for 21 years. We'll talk with a jailhouse lawyer who was set up, but still believes in the power of the law.

Emily Corwin

New analysis of state and county-wide data shows black and Hispanic people are arrested and incarcerated at higher rates in New Hampshire than whites are, and at more disproportionate rates than blacks and Hispanics nationwide.

Alex Eylar via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6VbpUm

Mugshots are considered to be public record by the American justice system. They're also a multi-million dollar source of revenue for internet scammers. Today on the show, an investigation of extortionist websites that hold people's images, and reputations for ransom.

Plus, the chancellor of a very unusual school talks about the growing business of cannabis, and a troupe of Muslim women form a B-Girl dance group and show the western world that just because you wear a hijab, doesn't mean you can't bust a move.  

Emily Corwin

About a year ago, a few members of the Nashua Police force agreed to meet monthly with a handful of Nashua residents to address racial justice in policing. Thursday night, that committee invited members of the public to a meeting at Rivier University to discuss issues around race and policing in the aftermath of violence by and upon law enforcement around the country.

Twitter.com/ChiefWillard

Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard's uninhibited style has landed him in the spotlight recently. He’s been outspoken about the state's opioid crisis and has weighed in on political campaign disputes.

Most recently, he’s taken heat for comments about policing and race. But those who work with Willard say his actions often speak better than his words. 

Allegra Boverman

  A few hundred gathered for a Black Lives Matter march down Elm Street in Manchester Saturday evening.

Photo via the Black Live Matter Facebook page

A second Black Lives Matter protest is taking place in downtown Manchester Saturday night. 

Plymouth State University student and Manchester native Tyrell Whitted is organizing the event. He says he hopes Saturday “will be a positive experience, peaceful, everybody’s gonna raise awareness and have a good time.”

Emily Corwin/NHPR

It’s been 27 years since New Hampshire courts first ordered a new state prison for women, and more than three years since lawmakers approved funding for the new facility.

Today, the project took another step forward: The Department of Corrections says the facility’s access roads and parking lot are completed.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

In Nashua on Wednesday, Republican Ted Gatsas announced his plan to fight opiate addiction across the state. In front of city hall, Gatsas told a small gathering of reporters the heroin crisis needs leadership, saying, "My first act as Governor would be to declare this fentanyl heroin epidemic is a public health emergency." 

The man who appears on video being punched by law enforcement officers following a high speed car chase has been taken to Elliot Hospital. 

Richard Simone’s public defender requested a bail hearing on Friday after finding his client had not been transported to a hospital the day before. 

Attorney Tony Sculimbrene says it was expected he would be taken to a hospital following a court appearance on Thursday.

“The result of the bail hearing was that a transport order was issued to have him taken to a hospital,” Sculimbrene says.

Both a New Hampshire state trooper and a Massachusetts state trooper have been relieved of their duties after allegedly punching a driver following a multi-state car chase Wednesday. The story has gotten national attention after media outlets released a video of the incident.  

Emily Corwin / NHPR

This is the first week inmates about to be released from prison in New Hampshire can receive the substance abuse medication Vivitrol.

The program is designed to reduce re-offenses and drug overdoses after release.

DOC deputy commissioner Helen Hanks says the prison will give inmates a single dose of Vivitrol seven days before they return to the community. Then, Hanks says, “We connect them with a primary care provider so that we continue that continuity of care model to help them have the best success they can.”

For years, New Hampshire has been unable to recruit enough prison officers. Despite spending thousands of dollars on recruitment and advertising, prisons here operate with 70 fewer officers than they need to meet "critical staffing" levels.

File photo

The physician at Manchester's Valley Street Jail has agreed not to practice medicine at any correctional facility while the Board of Medicine investigates allegations that inmates received substandard care.

The board issued an emergency order April 28 that temporarily suspended the license of Matthew Masewic, who has been physician at the Hillsborough County jail since 2009. In agreeing to the terms of the order, Masewic has not admitted to any misconduct.

Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

The emergency suspension of a physician who oversees the medical needs of more than 200 inmates in Hillsborough County comes after the state Board of Medicine received numerous complaints of substandard care at Valley Street Jail. 

But well before the board launched an investigation into allegations that Matthew Masewic had failed to provide adequate treatment, attorneys for former inmates say medical care at the jail was a problem long before he arrived seven years ago.

Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

  A doctor who oversees the medical needs of over 200 jailed inmates in Hillsborough County has been barred from practicing at the facility for at least the next 120 days, after an emergency license suspension by the state’s Board of Medicine

The board claims Matthew Masewic failed to provide his patients at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester with adequate medical care. Its investigation argues that one individual’s heart and other medications were stopped, even after a trip to the ER and subsequent doctors’ orders.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

A proposed rule change to the state’s circuit court system aims to end so-called debtors’ prison in New Hampshire.

The change comes six months after a report from the New Hampshire ACLU found judges across the state routinely engaged in an illegal practice – sending defendants to jail who couldn’t afford to pay fines, often without an attorney present.

The state’s Medical Examiner has concluded that a man found dead at the Valley Street Jail in early March died of a fentanyl overdose. The death was ruled an accident.

NHPR File Photo

The southeast New Hampshire town of Barrington has hired its first female officer since the police department was founded in the 1950s. 

cuffsnchains / Flickr/CC

With growing concerns nationally and in New Hampshire about a large and expensive prison population, the House recently passed a bill to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for some offenses. And then later we'll look at another House measure to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

In New Hampshire, pretty much only rape and murder convictions can land a defendant behind bars for the rest of his or her life. Burglary? With a record? You might get fifteen years. Unless you’re Kevin Balch.

NH-ACLU

Fast food workers who are advocating a $15 minimum wage will march to a New Hampshire jail to protest a colleague's death behind bars after he was unable to post $100 bail. 

POOL

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider the case of New Hampshire’s only person on death row, Michael Addison.

In October, Addison’s attorney David Rothstein filed a petition with the nation’s Supreme Court arguing that in allowing and refusing certain pieces of evidence during trial, the New Hampshire Supreme Court violated the eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment.

Ryan Lessard for NHPR

The University of New Hampshire at Manchester and White Mountains Community College are partnering to allow students in certain programs to pay community college tuition rates for a four-year degree.

The program will be available to students with an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice or Internet Technology from White Mountains Community College.  After receiving that degree, students could go on to receive a Bachelor's degree from UNH Manchester while continuing to pay only the Community College tuition costs. 

Patrick Mansell / flickr Creative Commons

 A Senate committee has approved Emily Gray Rice to serve as U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire.

Rice, who was nominated by President Barak Obama, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. She would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte have said they would support Rice.

AP Pool

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post in September, Orleans Public Defender Tina Peng wrote, “because we don’t have enough lawyers on staff, the week I passed the bar in 2013, I began representing people facing mandatory life sentences on felony charges.” Her caseload is double the maximum recommended by the American Bar Association; high turnover means after two years on the job, she’s one of the more senior attorneys on staff.

New Hampshire Bar Association Past Presidents

  Twenty-seven past presidents of the New Hampshire Bar Association are defending a judicial nominee whose confirmation failed in the Executive Council earlier this month.

The attorneys purchased half-page ads in the Concord Monitor and the Union-Leader that ask three Republican Executive Councilors to reconsider their votes not to confirm long-time public defender Dorothy Graham for the Superior Court bench.

Graham is the managing attorney for the Manchester Public Defenders office.

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