Concord, NH: On June 30, 2010, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, surrounded by a bipartisan group of state leaders representing all three branches of government, signed landmark criminal justice legislation (Senate Bill 500) into law that will increase public safety by lowering the state’s recidivism rate and, as a result, reduce both the prison population and taxpayer spending on corrections. For a downloadable summary of the legislations and its implications, click here.
The state's prison population had increased 31 percent over the last ten years, despite New Hampshire's low and stable crime rate. The growth was caused by a 50 percent increase in the number of people released from prison each year who were later returned for violations or new criminal activity. In 2009, three of every five people entering prison had violated the conditions of their probation or parole supervision.
Furthermore, annual studies of recidivism by the New Hampshire Department of Corrections found that the percent of individuals released from prison who are returned within three years had increased from 40 percent in 2003 to 51 percent in 2005. The new law is projected to reduce the number of people who fail on probation and parole and are revoked to prison, respectively, by 20 percent and 40 percent. The recidivism reduction will gradually decrease the prison population over the next four years by 18 percent, resulting in between $7 million and $10 million in correctional cost savings.
The law will accomplish the following:
- Focus supervision on high-risk offenders by reducing the length of supervision for low-risk offenders
- Enable probation officers to employ short, swift jail sanctions for minor probation violations, when permitted, by judges at sentencing.
- Establish a seven-day residential intermediate sanction for minor parole violators and a designated ninety-day parole revocation facility to re-engage parole violators in treatment and comply with supervision.
- Ensure that everyone leaving prison receives at least nine months of supervision.
- Require nonviolent offenders to serve no more than 120 percent of their minimum sentence.