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Letter: Trouble at the jail

Much discussion and controversy has surrounded the Belknap County jail in recent months. As a candidate for state representative from Laconia, I decided to visit this facility and tour the inside.

The jail is made up of a hodgepodge of several additions constructed over the years. It was not designed for women but about two-dozen women are housed in the gymnasium. It was not designed for the mentally ill or drug and alcohol patients. The present jail does not meet the needs of housing the current population and providing space for essential rehabilitation programs.

One of the positive aspects of the jail’s policies is to provide programs and activities to help insure that inmates will not return. For example, a GED is required of all inmates who have not graduated from high school. The jail does not simply “house” inmates. Programs are in place to rehabilitate inmates and make them useful in society.

The Belknap County correctional facility does not meet codes and standards, such as fire safety codes, and it is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

All of New Hampshire’s county jails, with the exception of Belknap and Coos, have up-to-date modern correctional facilities. Other counties have addressed and solved this problem, why haven’t we?

To me, an obvious problem exists with our current jail facility. The issue should be easily addressed to arrive at an acceptable solution.

Knowledge and cooperation are the keys to solving the jail dilemma.

THOMAS DAWSON

Laconia

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