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Jail study finds staff not at fault in jailbreak

May 10, 2012
OSSIPEE — Citing state law that gives them permission to keep some things from going public, Carroll County Commissioners will not be releasing any details about the investigation into the jail break last December.

On the recommendation of the sheriff, the commissioners contracted with former Hillsborough County Jail Superintendent James O'Mara to look into the "facts and circumstances" and security issues at the jail.

Commissioner Dorothy Solomon read a prepared statement at the commissioner's meeting last week, "At the request of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners and as directed by Sheriff Christopher Conley and investigation and review of facts and circumstances regarding the above mentioned incident (jail escape and investigation Carroll County House of Corrections December 1, 2011), was undertaken by James M. O'Mara, Jr. a former superintendent of a correctional institution. A thorough and well-documented 32-page investigation and report was prepared for the sheriff and board of commissioners regarding the escape and the then current security conditions of the Carroll County House of Corrections. A further review of the facility and security related issues was also undertaken. Mr. O'Mara concluded that the escape and incident was not the result of negligence or inattention to duties and responsibilities of employment on the part of any member of the staff of the House of Corrections. Recommendations and improvements to the existing security at the facility for the protection of inmates, staff and county were made in the report. The specifics in the report and the specific recommendations were discussed in non-public session at a regular noticed meeting of the board of commissioners and are protected from disclosure under NH RSA 91-A:3, II(g). The board of commissioners was advised to work on a plan and to implement suggested changes to the corrections operations. The plan and budgetary costs are to be coordinated between the commissioners and the superintendent and later to be presented later to the delegation for their review and consideration."

Commissioners David Sorensen said he, the sheriff, county attorney and were all pleased with the outcome of the report and that the commissioners will follow up on the recommendations, including bringing the recommendations to the delegation for approval. The recommendations include more personnel and better fencing, which are budgetary items that must be approved by the delegation.

Solomon also said she is pleased with the report. Commissioner Asha Kenney did not give any specific reasons publicly but said there were a couple of things that she wanted to see investigated that were not and that she brought forth those concerns in the non-public session.

Jail Superintendent Jason Johnson has received an estimate of $35,000 for adding a chain-link covering to the recreation yard, the area from which the inmate escaped. Past jail studies have indicated best staffing for the facility is 36 corrections officers. At the time of the inmate escape, there were 29 on staff. The county delegation approved adding two additional officers this year.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
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