Please support two superb crime bills on January 11

House Criminal Justice Committee, Room 204, Legislative Office Building
2 p.m.   HB 143 lets parolees get busted to prison for a short stay.
The intent of this bill may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t. We should support HB 143 to simplify the return to prison of someone who is goofing up on parole and headed for trouble. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. John Sytek of Salem, husband of Donna Sytek, the Parole Board chairwoman. Donna Sytek is the former House speaker.
The bill would let the state recommit almost any parolee for less than 90 days as a short term penalty to get their full attention and give them a chance to straighten out. The legislation expands the categories of prisoners eligible for one of these quick and hopefully therapeutic trips back to hard time. 
Donna Sytek has brought major reforms to the work of the Parole Board. She has also recruited people like former Supreme Court Justice Joseph Nadeau to join it. HB 143 is another of her improvements to the parole process. 
2:30 p.m.  HB 282 helps prisoners make work/study release.
Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform wrote this bill and found a team of strong sponsors for it. It lets a prisoner make school or work release in the last year of their minimum sentence without the involvement of a court. The bill gives the commissioner of Corrections authority to approve this work or school release for a prisoner, even if he or she cannot afford a lawyer. County jail commissioners already have the power to release prisoners early in their sentence for work or study without court involvement,  knowing such people have a better chance to support themselves and stay outside. HB 282 gives a similar, but far more limited, power to the commissioner of Corrections. 
Today a long and costly legal process makes it almost impossible for most state prisoners to transition to the street before their minimum parole date.  While it is hard for prisoners to win court approval for this kind of early freedom, it is very simple to lose that freedom. Getting busted back to prison requires no court involvement.  
HB 282 treats work/study release and return to prison the same way, as they should be treated. Note the bill gives a judge the power to deny this such early release as part of the original sentence. 
Both of these key bills for hearings next week are below. Bold text is to be added. Underlined text is to be deleted. 
Feel free to email or call me or our executive director, Wanda Duryea, if you have questions or need help testifying. Wanda can be reached at or 603-755-1153.
HB 143 - AS INTRODUCED                   Prime sponsor: Rep. John Sytek
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1  Parole of Prisoners; Effect of Recommittal.  Amend RSA 651-A:19, VII to read as follows:
VII.  At the revocation hearing, the parole board may impose a term of recommittal for less than 90 days if[:
(a)  The prisoner has not been previously found true for a parole violation on his or her current sentence or another sentence for which he or she was concurrently serving a term of parole;
(b)  The prisoner was not on parole for a sexual offense as defined in RSA 651-B:1, V or an offense against a child as defined in RSA 651-B:1, VII;
(c)  The prisoner was not on parole for a violent crime as defined in RSA 651:5, XIII;
(d)  The parole violation is not substantially related to his or her offense or offending pattern; and
(e)]  The parole board determines that a lesser period of recommittal will aid in the rehabilitation of the parolee.
2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.
HB 282   Sponsors: Rep. P. Schmidt, Rep. Ulery, Rep. Patten, Rep. Bartlett,
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened: 
1  Sentences; Release From State Prison.  Amend RSA 651:25, I to read as follows:
I.  The commissioner of corrections may release any person who has been committed to the state prison at any time during the term of sentence for the purpose of obtaining and working at gainful employment, for the performance of uncompensated public service as provided in RSA 651:68-70, for the pursuit of higher education, or for such other purpose as may be deemed conducive to his or her rehabilitation, for such times or intervals of time and under such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the commissioner pursuant to RSA 541-A, provided, however, that a prisoner who has not served sufficient time to be eligible for parole may be released under this section only if [the sentencing court and the prosecutor of the underlying offense have been notified of the proposed release, and there has been no objection within 10 days of the notice by either the sentencing court or the prosecutor of the underlying offense.  If the prosecutor of the underlying offense objects to the proposed release, the prosecutor shall submit in writing to the sentencing court the reasons for objecting.  The sentencing court shall, within 10 days of receipt of the prosecutor's objection, schedule a hearing on the proposed release.  The sentencing court shall then approve or deny the proposed releasethe prisoner is serving the final year of his minimum aggregate sentence.  The commissioner of corrections may permit inmates of the state prison, who volunteer to do so, to be gainfully employed outside the institution when such employment is considered in their best interest and the best interest of the state.  Inmates may be so employed by the state or by public or private employers.  A judge may deny a prisoner the chance to participate in a work release program if doing so is in the interest of public safety.
2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.
For more information contact:  Chris Dornin, co-founder, Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform 228-9610,