Prison and Justice Reporting

An ongoing series of stories on New Hampshire's criminal justice system, with a focus on the experience of those people moving through the state's corrections system. 

Visit N.H. Bar Foundation at nhbarfoundation.org.

This is the fourth and final episode of “The Rules Are Different Here,” a four-part series on mass incarceration in New Hampshire. Listen to the full series here.

Annie Wrenn is middle-aged with blond hair she wears with bangs. She’s a little over 5 feet tall. And on first sight, you’d never guess she’s a prison guard.

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.

Justine Paradis

Three years ago, Samuel and Rachel purchased a wooden crate manufactured by inmates at the New Hampshire State Prison, but they wondered: was it ethically made? 

This is the third episode in our four-part series on mass incarceration in New Hampshire. Explore the full series here. 

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.”

Courtesy photo

 

Manchester Police Chief Carl Capano says he's rolling out a new way to grant paid days off to officers for exceptional service.

The policy, called "employee incentive days," will replace the practice of "chief days," which came under fire last year, when an internal audit revealed that police chiefs had rewarded officers with paid days off for nearly two decades without a clear system for doing so.

Part 2: One Month Out

Feb 22, 2019

This is the second episode of “The Rules Are Different Here,” a four-part series on mass incarceration in New Hampshire. Listen to the first installment, or explore the full series.

Cheryl Senter / NHPR

 

Inmates with substance use disorder will now have someone to help them get recovery services after they leave state prison.

The initiative was piloted in 2018 in the women's prison in Concord and is now expanding to the men's prison in Berlin.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Helen Hanks says re-entry coordinators are needed because so many people in prison are struggling with addiction and many are in recovery. They face a high chance of recidivism or overdosing post release.

Part 1: Going Inside

Feb 8, 2019
History of Concord NH From the Original Grant in Seventeen Hundred and Twenty-Five to the Opening of the Twentieth Century

Bill Blanchard was just a kid when he first came into contact with law enforcement.

"Going Inside" is the first installment of a four-part series,"The Rules Are Different Here: A Series on New Hampshire's Prisons and Jails." The full series is available here.

History of Concord, New Hampshire, from the original grant in seventeen hundred and twenty-five to the opening of the twentieth century

What does mass incarceration look like in New Hampshire?

Appleswitch via Flickr Creative Commons

 

The ACLU of New Hampshire and the Union Leader Corporation have filed a right-to-know lawsuit against the town of Salem.

Brian Wallstin/NHPR

A federal jury on Tuesday found a former physician assistant guilty of participating in a kickback scheme involving fentanyl.

Christopher Clough of Dover was convicted of overprescribing the painkiller to patients in exchange for receiving compensation from the drug’s manufacturer.

Appleswitch via Flickr Creative Commons

Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan is resigning after an internal audit revealed widespread problems in the department.

The audit found the department mishandled investigations, failed to follow through with citizen complaints, and was inconsistent in timekeeping and pay.

Salem placed Donovan on leave for two days in August over disagreements with Town Manager Chris Dillon, but he had returned to his post despite ongoing disputes with the town.

Matty Ring/Flickr

The town of Salem has hired a “civilian administrator” to oversee ongoing improvements at the Salem Police Department after an audit identified significant problems there.

Brian Patullo, a former Chief of the Andover Police, has taken the new role of civilian administrator, which Town Manager Chris Dillon says will last “until most issues are addressed.”

Flickr, Courtesy of christopdesoto

 

The Conway Police Department is asking for funding to arm its officers with Taser guns.

 

Many police departments in New Hampshire already use Taser guns, which pause a suspect by stunning them with an electric shock.

 

Edward Wagner, Conway's Chief of Police, says changes in policing and conversations with Axon, the company selling the Tasers, have convinced him it's time for a change.

 

NHPR File Photo

 

A commission of criminal justice experts convened by lawmakers has issued its recommendations for how New Hampshire should implement bail reform.

Among other things, it recommends that the courts keep track of whether defendants commit new offenses while out on bail; that the state pay bail commissioner fees if the defendant is indigent; that victims generally not be required to testify at a bail hearing; and that the state adopt a text messaging system to remind defendants about their court date.

A Conval Regional High School student allegedly involved in a school shooting threat last week is being held without bond in a Manchester jail.

According to police, Anthony Wheeler of Antrim posted a picture on Snapchat last week of another Conval student dressed up like one of the Columbine school shooters and holding guns.

A caption read: "Don’t go to school on Wednesday."

Police have not revealed whether the guns in the photo were real, but all district schools were closed on Wednesday as a result.

A prison chaplain in Berlin is facing federal charges after prosecutors say he smuggled contraband into a federal correctional facility.

Joseph Buenviaji, 53, appeared in federal court in Concord on Thursday, where he faces bribery and contraband charges. 

File photo

Police are investigating the death of a woman last weekend in a Manchester jail. 

 

Deatrah Reilly, 32, was found dead in her jail cell on Saturday after an apparent suicide.

Her mother, Lorri Moore, says Reilly struggled with drug addiction and depression.

She was arrested on outstanding warrants, including for drug possession. 

 

"She was in Valley Street Jail," says Moore. "Everyone told me leave her there - it will help her, it will save her life."

A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man found guilty of stalking a New Hampshire teenager.

David Ackell, 49, of Seekonk, Massachusetts, was found guilty in 2016 after he maintained contact with a teen after she repeatedly told him she no longer wanted to be in a relationship. He also threatened to release partially nude photos of the girl if she broke off contact with him.

Ackell appealed his conviction, arguing that the federal stalking laws violated his freedom of speech, and that the evidence presented by prosecutors was insufficient.

NH State Prison
Wikimedia Commons

Help us decide what story to explore next in our "Only in New Hampshire" series. We're looking for your questions about prisons in New Hampshire. Wondering about the difference between a jail and a prison? How prisoners spend their days? What the rates of recidivism are in NH and what's being done about it? Mental health in prison?

Send us your questions. We'll start reporting the story in December for an upcoming episode of Word of Mouth and our newscast. 

FILE

Federal prosecutors in Hillsborough County have begun to toughen penalties for fentanyl traffickers as part of a nationwide program called  "Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Surge pilot program during a stop in Concord this summer.

Marlborough Police Department

When cops go online, sometimes they make jokes. 

Joe Gratz / flickr, creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/63126465@N00/117048243

A Concord man found guilty in the brutal murder of his fiancée in 1983 will not be granted a pardon hearing.

On Thursday, the Executive Council voted 3-2 against the request of Gary Place, who killed 32-year old Wanda Olsen, and then according to newspaper reports from the time, immediately turned himself into police.

Dan Tuohy for NHPR

Indigent defendants who fail to pay fees assessed for their public defender cannot be jailed without adequate due process, including representation by an attorney. That’s according to an unanimous ruling released on Tuesday by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire in a case involving an indigent defendant who failed to repay approximately $450 owed to the state.

The Claremont Speedway will host a memorial race Friday night for Cody LaFont, the 25-year-old man killed by a city police officer in 2016. 

Emily Corwin for NHPR

Negotiators have reached agreement on a proposal to eliminate cash bail for most New Hampshire offenders. The plan won strong support from lawmakers but was reworked to address concerns of prosecutors and police.

Senate Bill 556 aimed to eliminate cash bail for people charged with misdemeanors so long as a judge ruled them not dangerous. In its current form, the elimination of bail with cash or conditions would only apply to Class B misdemeanors, crimes which carry no jail time.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A proposed constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law failed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives on Thursday, despite a well-organized and well-financed effort by supporters.

The amendment would have created a list of constitutional rights designed to give crime victims a greater say in the court system. 

The Carroll County Sheriff’s department is investigating the death of a young woman last week in the county jail.

Twenty-four year-old Nikole Coe was facing charges related to the sale of drugs that resulted in a death.

Coe died on the afternoon of April 3, according to Carroll County Corrections Superintendent Jason Henry. That’s the day jury selection was scheduled to begin on her trial. 

A proposal to amend the state constitution is stirring debate among lawmakers and legal experts in New Hampshire.

The so-called Marsy’s Law amendment would insert specific rights for crime victims into the state constitution.

As NHPR’s Jason Moon reports, a well-financed campaign has brought the same debate to more than a dozen other states at the same time.

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