Legislative Alert Jan. 17, 2013

Legislative Updates for Jan. 17, 2013

By Chris Dornin, founder, CCJR, 620-7946

Should jails release worthy inmates to work or go to school?

HB 224 is bold legislation to let counties reduce their jail populations and associated costs in an arguably responsible way. It goes before the House Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Room 204 of the Legislative Office Building. The legislation would let county jail superintendents release suitable inmates for course work, employment and community service instead of incarcerating them.

Families of inmates, Libertarians, small government proponents, worried property tax payers, and those who work for restorative justice should consider speaking in favor of the bill. It is unclear how often jail officials would use this power, but it is a good one for them to have. Some progressive reforms are happening in county facilities. Below is the text of the bill to help you decide about it. Language added to existing law is in bold italics.

10 a.m. HB 224

651:19 Release for Purpose of Gainful Employment, Rehabilitation, or Home Confinement. A sentencing court may [order] recommend at the time of sentencing, or the superintendent of the county correctional facility may, at any time during the sentence, allow any person who has been committed to a correctional institution other than state prison under a criminal sentence [may] to be released therefrom for the purpose of obtaining and working at gainful employment, for the performance of uncompensated public service as provided in RSA 651:68-70, under the terms of a day reporting program, provided the correctional facility has a day reporting program, or to serve the sentence under home confinement, provided the correctional facility has a home confinement program. If the court recommends a person for release and the superintendent determines the person is inappropriate for such release, the court shall be notified and, at the request of the defendant, a hearing may be scheduled. In any case, the defendant shall first serve 14 consecutive days prior to eligibility for home confinement, or for such other purpose as the court or the superintendent may deem conducive to his or her rehabilitation, for such times or intervals of time and under such terms and conditions as the rules and regulations of the correctional facility may allow or as the court may order. Any part of a day spent in the free community, or in home confinement, under such a release order shall be counted as a full day toward the serving of the sentence unless otherwise provided by the court. If a person violates the terms and conditions laid down for his or her conduct, custody, and employment, he or she shall be returned to the correctional facility. The superintendent may then require that the balance of the person’s sentence be spent in actual confinement.

10:30 a.m. HB 153

IX. Industrial hemp shall not be designated as a controlled substance.

1 p.m. HB 209

VII. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a judge shall not order relinquishment of firearms as a condition of bail from a person charged with an offense unless such person is alleged to have committed a violent crime or is alleged to have used a weapon when committing a crime.

1:30 p.m. HB 135

Repeal of Stand Your Ground Legislation.