CONCORD, N.H. —– Young adult prisoners in New Hampshire would get a chance to shave 13 months off their sentences under a bill heading back to the state Legislature.
Lawmakers narrowly defeated a bill two years ago that would allow inmates between 17 and 25 to earn time off their sentences for completing education and rehabilitative programs.
The new version, which is up for a House vote Jan. 8, mandates that inmates full serve their minimum sentences before becoming eligible for parole.
Under the bill, inmates would get 90 days off their sentences for completing GED programs, 120 days for a high school diploma and 180 days for an associate or bachelor’s degree. They also could earn reductions for completing vocational, mental health or family support programming.
Proponents say the bill will encourage rehabilitation and reduce recidivism. They argue that prisoners who have an incentive to better themselves will become less of a burden on society.
“Some people will say, ‘I don’t give a damn,”’ said state Rep. Gene Charron, R-Chester, a sponsor of the bill and a former jail superintendent. “But you know what? Most of the people in the state prison are coming home. So how do you want them to come home? With an education? With a trade?”
But Donna Sytek, chairwoman of the state parole board, told the Concord Monitor the bill has several flaws. Inmates currently incarcerated would be eligible for reduced time if the sentencing court approves, but other interested parties, including the victim and the public, aren’t in the loop, she said. And she said the bill doesn’t account for the fact that many rehabilitative programs have been gutted from the prison system.
“The bill promises more than it can deliver,” she said.