Department of Corrections Presents Information on Evidence-Based Sentencing
(Concord, N.H.) New Hampshire Department of Corrections Assistant Commissioner William G. McGonagle was one of four criminal justice experts who testified before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on evidence-based sentencing and practices. The presentation was given on February 12, 2013 to provide the committee members with information about the importance of science and research in providing programs and treatment and appropriate sentencing for people convicted of crimes.
Assistant Commissioner McGonagle announced that the Department recently began utilizing the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS), which assesses rehabilitative treatment outcomes, tracks its effectiveness, defines potential barriers to treatment, and predicts the likelihood of re-arrest or reoffending at all stages of the criminal justice process.
Assistant Commissioner McGonagle said, “The focus on using risk tools has been effective and results in lower levels of the rate of recidivism.”
He explained that there are six contributing factors that lead to reoffending. Criminal thinking, the influence of their peers and associates, substance abuse, mental health issues, the family support system, and the offender’s education and training.
Also participating in the presentation were Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau, Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice, and Randy Hawkes the Executive Director of the NH Public Defenders Office.
Chief Justice Nadeau discussed the New Hope Program in which offenders submitted to frequent drug tests and meetings with their Probation/Parole Officer who would enforce short, swift jail sanctions for technical violations. She said that this resulted in offenders becoming more accountable.
Deputy Attorney Rice told the committee it was more effective to focus rehabilitation efforts on offenders who pose a higher risk of re-offending using short swift sanctions. She said it was important to provide programs and treatment in the community in conjunction with programs in prison.
Executive Director Hawkes discussed the history of the Strafford County Drug Courts program, which involved regular drug testing while in treatment program, regular meetings with their sentencing judge, and a sanctions and/or rewards program based on their progress.