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Report: NH State Prisons Show Decline in Inmate Numbers



March 18, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. - For the first time in nearly 40 years, state prisons nationwide are seeing a decline in the number of inmates, according to a new report released by Pew Center on the States. In the Granite State, prison populations have seen a drop of six percent.

New Hampshire Department of Corrections (NHDOC) spokesman Jeff Lyons says that's no accident. Aggressive measures were needed after state budget issues led to the closing of the Lakes Region Facility last year, he explains.

"We had to put some of these inmates on more of a fast-track, trying to get them out into the community as best as we could by expediting parole."

More than 50 percent of the state's inmates return to prison on parole or probation violations, Lyons says, but the NHDOC is working on reducing those numbers by implementing programs that will work closely with inmates to make sure they succeed once they are back in society.

Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project for Pew Center on the States, says to keep in mind that a decline in the prison population is not necessarily good news in itself.

"It's only good news if states are reinvesting prison savings into a stronger system of supervision for offenders who are on the street."

The full report is available at www.pewcenteronthestates.org.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH