criminal justice reform | New Hampshire Public Radio

criminal justice reform


The New Hampshire Senate has given its unanimous backing to a bill that would implement some recommendations from Gov. Chris Sununu's commission on police accountability and transparency. But the final bill removes a requirement that police departments in the state collect racial information about people they arrest, search or stop. It also scrapped adding racial identifiers to driver's licenses.

Photo: West Midlands Police/cc/flickr

The New Hampshire Senate passed a bill last week based on recommendations from Gov. Sununu's commission on police accountability and transparency.

The governor created the so-called LEACT commission last summer in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolice Police.

But Senate members voted in favor of an amendment that eliminated key parts of the bill, and police reform advocates say the changes effectively gut the bill.

New Hampshire has seen an increase in grassroots organization around racial justice this past year, and more activists are showing up in legislative sessions to push for civil rights. Now, those advocates are leading conversations on criminal justice and police reform at the State House.

Data Show N.H. Police Disproportionately Arrest People Of Color

Feb 28, 2021
New Hampshire state police car.
Geoff Forester / Concord Monitor

A state commission on police reform last year unveiled widespread inconsistency in what data New Hampshire police collect, on whom and in what circumstances.

Members of the Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency emphasized the need for more standardized, transparent record keeping of police interactions at all levels — including race and gender data for arrests, stops and citations.

Photo: West Midlands Police/cc/flickr

There's been a lot of public debate over police reform in the last year. A statewide commission on police accountability and transparency made many recommendations for reform this past summer, and now some of those are under consideration this legislative session.

Police Transparency In The Spotlight During N.H. Senate Hearing

Jan 19, 2021

Three months after the New Hampshire Supreme Court delivered a transformative ruling over government personnel practices, including police disciplinary records, state lawmakers are considering creating new laws around them.

State Meets Many Police Reform Deadlines, With Much Left To Be Done In 2021

Dec 27, 2020
Police car
Dan Tuohy/NHPR

A long list of changes to the way New Hampshire police are recruited, trained, supervised and held accountable is about to move from the recommendation stage to implementation, with potentially far-reaching consequences for law enforcement and the public at large.

A police officer walks through the woods in Claremont, New Hampshire
Elijah Nouvelage

Gov. Chris Sununu put into motion a set of 20 recommended changes to law enforcement in New Hampshire Wednesday – including, for the first time, a directive that New Hampshire State Police use body cameras.

In N.H., County Prosecutors Wield Power, But Often Run Unopposed

Jul 28, 2020
Michael Moore / Keene Sentinel

They’re among the most powerful actors in New Hampshire’s criminal justice system, deciding which charges to file, making bail recommendations and shaping the plea negotiations that determine the sentences in most criminal cases.

And in much of the state, they’re running unopposed.

In seven of the state’s 10 counties, the incumbent county attorney — the chief local prosecutor, what other states call a district attorney — has not drawn a challenger this year.

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Around midnight on a Saturday, Thomas Hurd fell asleep at the bar of a Chinese restaurant in Farmington, New Hampshire. 

The bartender, suspecting Hurd was drunk when he got there, asked him to leave. According to police reports, Hurd instead began smashing plates and flipping tables. 

Calls to defund police departments are a growing part of American political discourse.

Demonstrators protesting decades of police violence against Black Americans in cities across the country have argued that some or all of the tax dollars that currently fund police departments should be instead rerouted to other social services.


NHPR has been looking at criminal justice reform in New Hampshire and its effect on policing across the state.

Bail reform went into effect in New Hampshire in September. Since then, many police officials have been frustrated causing tension between law enforcement and reform advocates. This led lawmakers to revisit the issue with a new bill, SB 314.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, the sponsor of that bill.

Emily Corwin/NHPR

NHPR’s Morning Edition been taking a look at criminal justice reform in New Hampshire and its effect on policing across the state.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed SB 556 last summer that brought big changes to New Hampshire’s bail system, but leaders in law enforcement say those changes are making their jobs more difficult.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Tobias Tarr spent the afternoon of June 17, 2017 tending to the garden at a homeless shelter in Keene.

That evening, still covered in dirt, Tarr found himself in an awkward situation: a resident of the facility had arrived home drunk and agitated.

“I sat with him on the couch and just calmed him down. He had it in his head that he wanted to beat somebody up upstairs,” says Tarr.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Natacha Davis is juggling a lot these days. She’s living with her mom, raising her three kids, and training to become a recovery coach to help people overcome addiction.

On a recent evening, she was running out the door for an A.A. meeting in Nashua. As she grabbed her keys, she peered into a Puerto Rican plantain stew simmering on the stove.

“Mom is the food done yet?”

“Not yet!” Her mom answered.

“Alright Mom. I love you. I’ll be back,” Davis opened the door. “You heard me? I love you.”

via Facebook

Like many a millennial hired at the dawn of the era of social media, Zachary Byam found himself in charge of creating a Facebook page at his college job.

But his task was unique. Byam worked as a part-time police officer, and he was creating his department's first social media account.