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County seeking federal inmates to help cover county jail costs

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS discussed the possibility of bringing in new revenue at the county jail by housing federal pre-trial inmates Feb. 12. Also in the discussion were CCHOC Superintendent and Asst. Superintendent Jason Johnson and Jason Henry. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
February 20, 2014
OSSIPEE — Carroll County Commissioners further discussed at their Feb. 12 meeting the possibility of housing federal inmates, who are awaiting trial, at the county jail. Commissioners are looking at this as a potential moneymaker to help offset the cost of running the county jail. They were asked to explore this option by the county delegation subcommittee.

The application work has begun and will move through a multi-layered federal approval process. Federal inmates awaiting trial are in the custody of the United States Marshal's Office and are housed at jails across the country. Once sentenced for their crimes, they are moved to federal prisons.

Commissioner David Babson joined jail officials at a meeting with a representative from the U.S. Marshal's Office and Babson said he was encouraged by the seemingly easy process to start housing federal detainees. CCHOC Superintendent Jason Johnson said the average daily rate the federal government will pay as "rent" to the county is $85 per day per federal inmate. Last year, Johnson told commissioners, the average daily cost to house an inmate at CCHOC was $105 in 2013.

The jail, opened just over 10 years ago, was built to house a maximum of 130 inmates. Over the years, the average daily population has been about half of that. Johnson indicated to delegates that reducing the number of full-time staff, now at 32, is not an option, so he was charged with looking at ways to bring in revenue to offset the cost to keep the jail operating.

In other jail news, Babson asked his fellow commissioners to go over to the jail to look at the artwork two offenders have painted. He then asked if the commission would allow one of the inmates to paint the County seal on the wall in the meeting room. "If you two haven't been over to the jail, there are two men over there with really good artistic ability. They are really good," said Babson. At last check, his fellow commissioners had not gone to see the artwork and at the Feb. 12 meeting neither had committed to allowing the painting to commence in the administration building.

Annual Report

Every year the county commissioners write an annual report summarizing the prior years' accomplishments and other happenings. The report is then published along with the reports of all County departments and financial statements in the annual report book. In this year's commission report, a line will be included at the end that Commissioner Asha Kenney does not approve of the commissioner's report. Kenney had submitted a one page document that she wanted included in the commissioner's report and that request was denied by her fellow commissioners. Her document, which she read aloud at their Feb. 5 meeting, gives her credit for doing apparently exhaustive research that resulted in the county now undergoing full financial audits and for keeping the IT contract bid period open. Her documents gives a glowing reference to the "fantastic asset" the County lost when the previous human resources director Janet (sic) Sullivan left while criticizing HR Director Robin Reade, accusing her of neglecting work on a project "despite repeated requests."

No one who has been regularly following county news can forget that Reade filed a harassment complaint against Kenney after Reade resigned. The results of that complaint investigation remain sealed, mostly because of Kenney's opposition to the results being released.

Reportedly, in a non-disclosure agreement signed by Sullivan and the commissioners, Sullivan had requested her name no longer be used by the commissioners in public. It is unclear if Kenney's public praise of her should have been kept quiet but perhaps that is why Kenney misspelled Sullivan's name.

Kenney also went on to give credit to the administrative assistant for keeping the County website updated while also criticizing the former administrative assistant, who she said embezzled $11,000 in 2013.

Kenney also takes the credit for electronic filing being "on its way to becoming reality" because she kept pushing for it to happen.

The final county report, including the commissioner's report, should be available by the end of the month, in print form and on the County website at www.carrollcountynh.net.

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