Understaffing at Berlin prison concerns county reps
December 15, 2010
WEST STEWARTSTOWN — The Coös County delegation of state representatives is 100 percent in agreement on the importance of having adequate staffing at the Berlin facility.
An proposal to express the delegation's concern about the adequate staffing at the Northern N. H. Correctional Facility, put forward by Rep. Herb Richardson of Lancaster before the start of Saturday's Coös County budget hearing, drew immediate acclaim.
In a voice vote the delegation unanimously agreed to write a letter to both state Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn and Gov. John Lynch asking that more corrections officers be assigned to the prison on East Milan Road. Approximately 740 inmates were crowded into the prison on the day that the nine delegation members on hand discussed the issue.
A gymnasium has been converted into a bunkhouse at the facility to accommodate the overflow.
The facility was built to house 500 inmates, with core facilities large enough to allow it to be some day doubled in size.
Rep. Richardson explained that constituents and other Coös residents have told him that they are concerned that not everything is being done to make the men's prison a safer place in which to work.
"They do need the help up there," said Coös County sheriff Gerry Marcou of Gorham, adding that people are getting hurt in the minimum-medium security facility that opened just over 10 years ago in April 2000 after the state floated a $30 million bond issue.
Rep. Rappaport said he would like the delegation to go on record as supporting state correctional facility employees.
County administrator Sue Collins was asked to draft a letter that captures the fact that the delegation is in complete agreement on this issue.