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. 

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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.

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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
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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. 

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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.

N.H. Judge Reduces Sentence of Juvenile Lifer

Jan 30, 2018
Dean Shalhoup/ The Telegraph/POOL

The first of New Hampshire’s inmates given life sentences without parole as juveniles has been granted a chance at release.

A new poll shows widespread support in New Hampshire for a constitutional amendment that would give crime victims more say in courtroom proceedings.

According to the poll, 85 percent of New Hampshire voters would support a constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law.

The amendment would require that victims be notified of all court proceedings involving their offender. It would also give them the right to be heard in things like sentencing hearings or plea deal negotiations.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu and a bipartisan group of legislators will officially kickoff the campaign for a new amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution at the State House on Tuesday.

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A former doctor at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester is surrendering his medical license after facing accusations of substandard care in the treatment of inmates.

During his seven years overseeing care at the facility, Dr. Matthew Masewic faced a number of federal lawsuits and complaints over his handling of inmate medical needs.

Those included claims that he failed to sign off on needed medications for inmates, failed to maintain adequate medical records and failed to supervise nursing staff.

FILE

The number of prison inmates testing positive for drugs in New Hampshire is going down.

Around this time last year, 27 percent of drug tests came back positive. New data from the Department of Corrections says now, that's down to 11 percent.

N.H.'s Commissioner of Corrections is Resigning

Aug 23, 2017
FILE

The head of the state’s Department of Corrections is stepping down.

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A former Portsmouth investment adviser will serve 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty for defrauding a client of $2 million dollars. The high-profile case had been scheduled for trial this month.

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An attorney representing a group of female prisoners says he's considering reactivating a lawsuit against the state after further delays in the opening of a new women's prison in Concord.

File photo

Under U.S. Supreme Court decisions, five inmates serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles in New Hampshire are getting a chance at eventual release.

The rulings affect five men sentenced to life in New Hampshire. They are Eduardo Lopez, Robert Dingman, Robert Tulloch, Michael Soto and Steven Spader. Altogether, they were convicted in the deaths of four men and three women who were fatally shot or stabbed between 1991 and 2009.

Update: Manchester City Solicitor, Tom Clark, announced his resignation Friday afternoon. 

Manchester city officials met with the city solicitor and the attorney general’s office Friday to discuss an investigation into Manchester City Solicitor’s office. The meeting was held to discuss quote “corrective action” and “potential terminations.” None of the parties present agreed to discuss the meeting.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The New Hampshire parole board plays a key role in the state’s criminal justice system. Its nine members decide which inmates get out on parole, and which parolees return to prison. Although parole hearings are open to the public, they take place with little oversight or public scrutiny. And, unlike most legal proceedings, they can be surprisingly unrefined affairs.

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