As a result of seventeen state job cuts in Laconia, some DWI offenders will be spending more time in jail than their judge required.
New Hampshire state laws surrounding DWI offenses are very strict. Individuals convicted of multiple or aggravated DWI charges must serve their sentence within 21 days of conviction. This type of sentence comes with a contingency that they must serve at least ten days in jail, seven of which must be spent in an intervention program for offenders.
New state budget cuts and resulting job losses, however, have closed the state-run Multiple Offender Program (MOP), based in Laconia, giving convicted individuals no choice but to serve more time in jail or find alternative options.
Privately run intervention programs are certainly available to offenders, but many of these cost more than $1,000 in up-front fees. This means that individuals who are unable to pay these private costs may have to spend up to 30 days in jail instead.
The Laconia job losses come as a result of statewide budget cuts. Nancy Rollins, the associate commissioner of health and human service, said it was a difficult decision to cut MOP. To assist individuals, Rollins said the state may offer to pay the up-front costs of private programs and collect the costs from the offenders after the treatment has ended.
No definite plans are in place, however, and Rollins says the state is working hard to find a good working alternative to the previously state-run program. To assist in this transition, many courts are withholding sentencing.
In 2008 there were 2,732 DWI cases in New Hampshire that involved multiple or aggravated offenses. Seventy five percent of those cases were handled by MOP. Now that the program is gone, government officials will be working hard to find feasible alternatives that appease the court as well as maintain an efficient system to handle these DWI cases.
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