Aug 28, 2014
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Backlash from former detective's early release increasing
Hassan wants to review the law that gave New Hampshire jail administrators flexibility to let inmates go before completing jail time, said a statement.
Coco has been out of jail since June 5. Reports indicate he is living at home in Bedford with his family and is working, but has a tight curfew.
Dionne said everyone concerned knew at the time of sentencing that Stephen Coco could be out on the 15th day after his sentencing in March.
If Coco, or any other prisoner on one of the release programs violates conditions, it’s back to jail, said the jail superintendent.
Dionne said before the sentencing law was modified, and the change took effect Sept. 22, 2013, one of the biggest problems with work release was that a judge had to issue the order.
“We needed some kind of authority,” he said. “We’re the ones who know the inmates. . .their history.” He said the superintendents are best qualified to evaluate the prisoners and make the decisions about home confinement, day reporting and work release.
House Majority Leader Stephen Shurtleff, D-Concord, said he agrees with Dionne’s decision to release Coco and said the decision fell in line with the original intention of HB 224.
Shurtleff, a retired U.S. Marshal, said he did not believe Coco’s former role as a police officer played any role in his reduced sentence.
State Rep. Robert Fesh, R-Derry, disagreed with Shurtleff.
Fesh said, from his recollection, the bill was intended to reduce a sentence if both the county attorney and the judge gave their okay.
“I don’t think this was the intention of the bill, from what I can recall,” said Fesh.
Rep. Charron said his intention with HB 224 was to have everyone involved in the original trial or case involved in any type of reduced or elimination of a sentence. For Charron, that means everyone from defense and prosecution to victims and their families.
Former House Speaker Donna Sytek, who is currently on the state parole board, was a strong backer of truth in sentencing during her years in the Legislature.
In the state system, she said, it takes 90 days before a prisoner is eligible for work release or home confinement with an ankle bracelet and a judge has to sign off on the modification.
The change has only been in effect since September 2013 and Foster said: “We don’t know what’s happened in other arenas. We may want to look into that. How’s it working?”
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