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Escaped county jail inmate Hobson sent to state prison

Jail superintendent upset with county funding shortfalls

CARROLL COUNTY HOUSE OF CORRECTIONS as seen from the lower section of County Farm Road in Ossipee on Dec. 1, with State Police helicopter beginning its search. The jail has been the focus of much media attention, budget discussion, and security scrutiny since an inmate housed here jumped the razor wire fence Dec. 1 and then eluded police for nearly a week. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
December 15, 2011
OSSIPEE— David Hobson, the Maine man being held on burglary charges who jumped the razor wire topped fence at Carroll County House of Corrections (CCHOC) on Dec. 1 then remained on the run until Dec. 6 is being held in state prison.

Hobson was in Carroll County jail, being held on charges of burglary out of Wakefield, Effingham, and Sandwich. He has a long history with the law and was reportedly in violation of his parole when arrested for burglaries in New Hampshire. He was sentenced to jail in 2006 in Maine to three three-year jail terms in 2006 for 14 counts of burglary in that state.

Following Hobson's escape in Ossipee Dec. 1 there was an extensive manhunt across the two states, with most of the effort centered on the Sanford and Alfred, Maine areas where Hobson has family ties. Once a $1,000 reward was offered by the U.S. Marshal's Office, the tips to Hobson's whereabouts came pouring in and he was arrested in the company of another man in a vehicle at Market Basket in Rochester at 6:15 p.m. on Dec. 6. At the time of his arrest, Hobson had $3,000 in cash and drugs in his possession. Police said his escape was motivated by revenge and that he had threatened his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend by sending a text message.

He was arrested by Maine police then picked up by Carroll County Sherriff's Department deputies and taken to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro where he was treated for minor injuries and then taken to jail in Ossipee. After a court hearing, he was transported to state prison for holding until his court dates to answer the burglary and escape charges.

Hobson is the first inmate to escape from the jail since it opened in 2008. And, judging by the repeated annual requests for increased staffing and security needs that have been shot down by county commissioners and delegates, CCHOC Superintendent Jason Johnson believed it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

On Nov. 28 Johnson was at the jail subcommittee meeting discussing with delegates his proposed 2012 budget that had already been trimmed by $400,000 by commissioners. Two jail studies have been done including the original design recommendations in 2002 and then another in 2010 that addressed staffing and security needs. Johnson said the equipment and staffing needs were nixed in the past with his list being dismissed with such comments as "it looks like you're preparing for a riot" and that the county is not going to run the jail at federal standards.

With Hobson apprehended the night before, when the Dec. 7 commissioner's meeting convened Johnson was visibly upset as he addressed the board. He read a prepared statement then told commissioners he had to leave for a press conference in Alfred, Maine and any questions they have for him should be presented in writing. Following his statement, Commissioner David Sorensen asked Johnson to prepare a request for proposals to get bids on the cost to enclose the recreation yard at the jail.

Tension between the commissioners and jail officers flared again during the Dec. 7 meeting when Commissioner Asha Kenney was chastised by CCHOC Captain Michael Fowler. At a previous meeting, Kenney said, "Federal employees have had a pay freeze for several years. Keep that in mind" when referring to whether or not county employees should receive pay increases this year.

Fowler challenged her knowledge of the starting pay for federal and county corrections officers. "So what is your point? What do you want to say?" asked Kenney.

Fowler responded that the starting salary for county corrections officers is about $28,000 while starting pay for federal employees is at least $10,000 higher.

"When you put comments like that…I have no problem with no pay raise or the information on how you come up with a pay raise but when you make a simple comment with no facts to back it up, that's demoralizing. That's my point," said Fowler.

The delegation is expected to begin 2012 budget talks in January where likely the tension will continue to mount as morale of county employees appears to remain on the decline and county officials seem focused only on cutting the bottom line.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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