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Senate Bill 500 became an election-season punching bag this fall, but it’s the law of the land, nonetheless. Whether it remains so, and intact, will depend on the next Legislature.
Today wraps up Front Door Politics’ weeklong series of reports on SB 500, in which we’ve tried to dig deeper than campaign rhetoric in order to understand the full context of this very real public safety issue. We hear a bit from the two men fighting for the governor’s office, and we report on the practices and lessons learned in Ohio, Kansas, and Texas—states that have already walked down this road.
Philip Horner has a unique perspective on the debate about New Hampshire’s new parole law: Convicted of felonious sexual assault, he served eight years in the New Hampshire State Prison. Horner has been on probation for the past two-and-a-half years, lives in Vermont and has listened to the talk about Senate Bill 500 with interest.
Parole laws aren’t just changing in New Hampshire. Senate Bill 500 is part of a national trend toward “justice reinvestment.”
“New Hampshire joins a lot of states in ensuring there is some form of post-release supervision,” says Michael Thompson, director of the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, which provided research assistance to the New Hampshire team that crafted SB 500. The Justice Center has advised at least 13 other states, to date, on similar initiatives to address growing incarceration rates—and costs—that don’t seem to be improving public safety.
Front Door Politics’ weeklong series on Senate Bill 500 continues.
The campaign trail is a field for political hardball, and Front Door Politics is here to referee the game.
This election season has put the spotlight on Senate Bill 500—criminal justice reform legislation that passed with resounding support last spring and suddenly lost many supporters this election season. After yesterday’s Primer on SB 500, our weeklong series on SB 500 now turns to fact-checking.
Today, we investigate the television ad “What are John Lynch’s priorities?” It was released by the group Americans for Prosperity on Sept. 30 and ran for five days. Though not mentioned, the ad is a thinly veiled reference to SB 500.
The ad’s script is in bold and in quotes. Our fact-check follows each section.
Before it became an election season issue for New Hampshire, Senate Bill 500 was hailed by Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike as an innovation in criminal justice. It would deal with the state’s problem of recidivism, fueled largely by parole and probation violations. It would reduce incarceration rates. It would improve public safety and save money along the way.
Signed into law on July 1 by Gov. John Lynch, the bill—and the people who stand behind it—have come under fire in the recent weeks of heated campaigning before next week’s mid-term elections.
This week, Front Door Politics digs into the story of SB 500 to separate the truth from the campaign “mud” and figure out what it really means for New Hampshire.
With the state budget still unbalanced, New Hampshire’s Legislature will not likely wrap up this spring’s session on June 2, as scheduled.
The House and Senate teams working on the budget agreed on how to fix $270 million of a nearly $300 million shortfall, but neither is budging on the final $30 million. Gov. John Lynch has said he’ll keep lawmakers working until the job is done.
In the meantime, several bills relating to health insurance, family law and the criminal justice system have already made it through the Committee of Conference process and await Lynch’s signature.
A new approach to parole is making headway in the N.H. Legislature.
If Senate Bill 500 passes, supporters say, less jail time and more community supervision could save the state money and help reduce recidivism at the same time. The Parole Board, however, fears for public safety if their authority is usurped.
The bill has passed the Senate and is expected to get a vote in the House sometime this month.
New Hampshire is one step closer to its budget for the next two years, although it still may be a long way off.