NH's Congressional delegation, concerned by the release of offenders convicted of domestic violence and sex offenses amid the coronavirus pandemic, has urged courts and officials in New Hampshire to issue guidance prohibiting their release. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the state's correctional facilities have released inmates in an effort to stop the spread of the disease. The delegation’s statement comes as concerns were raised with the release of an inmate in Carroll Country who was a violent offender.
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds Violence Against Women Act programs, and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan with Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) issued the following statement:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of domestic violence and placed enormous strain on survivors attempting to access the services they need to safely escape from abusive environments and to heal. As more individuals are forced to remain in their homes and movement is broadly restricted, the rate of domestic violence will continue to grow and survivors will be placed in increasingly vulnerable positions. Domestic violence hotlines are seeing a surge in calls for help.
“The last thing that a survivor of domestic or sexual violence should face during this difficult time is further abuse from an abuser who was released early from prison or jail. Not only does this harm the survivor, but it also presents a threat to the communities into which these violent offenders are released. States and the federal government should be doing everything possible to ensure that the inmate population is protected from COVID-19 outbreaks, but protecting our communities and victims of these violent crimes must be the priority.
“Courts and corrections officials in New Hampshire and all other states must make it clear that convicted violent criminals and sex offenders, who pose a threat to survivors and the community at large, should not be released. We will continue pushing for resources at the federal level to ensure that inmates are safe while fighting to protect the survivors of violent crimes.
Survivors in New Hampshire can speak with an advocate by calling the 24/7 domestic violence hotline at 1-866-644-3574 or the 24/7 sexual assault hotline at 1-800-277-5570. You are not alone.”