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NH Rep suggests money be escrowed for released county inmates

October 27, 2011
OSSIPEE— What if money charged to inmates on electronic monitoring could be refunded to them once they complete their sentence?

The question was posed at last week's county commission meeting by NH Rep. David Babson (R-Ossipee). According to the jail superintendent, Jason Johnson, whether or not inmates are allowed out on electronic monitoring as part of their bail conditions or part of their sentencing is up to the judge. He would like to see more inmates out on the program, if appropriate.

Johnson said the program is a revenue source. The county is charged $35 to $42 per week by the monitoring company for each inmate that is on the electronic monitoring program, said Johnson. The county, in turn, charges the inmate $110 per week. If inmates are "indigent or have a reduced level of income" they are charged $70 per week.

Johnson explained the "passive" monitoring system the county uses. The jail receives a report every 24 hours that details the inmate's activity in the past day. "On the passive system, you don't get the information until the 24 hours is up. If they did not turn up at work you wouldn't be able to know about that until later on during the day and they could be in places unknown?" asked Commissioner Dorothy Solomon. "That is correct," said Johnson, "but at any point in time we can go online [to check their current location] because some of us have access to the monitoring software," said Johnson.

Babson said he would like to see the money the county is charging over and above the fee to the monitoring company deposited into an account and given to the inmates as money to help them get back on their feet after their sentence is complete.

"We shouldn't be using this as a revenue source. Why not put the money into escrow for these characters for when they get out of jail so at least they know where their first meal is coming from or where their first night's going to be spent so they don't have to go right back to where they were when they got here. Is the revenue that important to us over the year? We should cover our cost but why not an escrow account?" asked Babson.

Commissioner David Sorensen pointed out that currently there are four inmates on electronic monitoring which equals $400 per week to the county. He suggested the jail subcommittee take a look at the issue.

LNA student program

Nursing home administrator Sandi McKenzie reported that the Region 9 Vocational Center Licensed Nursing Assistant Program is returning to the nursing home. The program has been absent for a couple of years. McKenzie said Mary Wakefield, RN is the clinical director for the program that will bring the high school students who are working on obtaining their LNA certification to work at the nursing home four days a week during their vocational class period.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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