New Hampshire Bail & Pretrial Detention

In New Hampshire, a special commission convened by lawmakers will study bail and pretrial detention in order to make a full recommendation regarding how the state’s courts should treat defendants before they actually go on trial. It’s a similar conundrum faced by states throughout the country, where bail reform has taken hold and most states having implemented some measure of “reform” are finding that their best efforts are falling way too far short.

New Hampshire SB 556 Eliminates Cash Bail

California is getting most of the press, but New Hampshire has also passed SB 556, which eliminates cash bail for most defendants. At the same time, while reformers may hail the passage, the downside they will start to realize (if other states’ examples play out in NH) is a large number of defendants staying in jail after being refused bail or release on personal recognizance by judges. In Maryland, for example, the number of people in jails skyrocketed after passage of a bail reform measure, as more and more people have been denied release from jail as they await their trials.

New Hampshire Jails Filling Up

In September of this year, New Hampshire Public Radio reported that Rockingham County saw more left behind bars than ever before after passage of the new law – that is precisely what is to be expected from such laws, and it’s an outcome that cuts directly against the grain of what most reformers are hoping for.

Chief Andrew Shagoury is the president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. He is extremely concerned about how the law is being applied, and notes that “they haven’t properly trained bail commissioners and judges.” He also expressed a keen desire for additional training going forward and said the new law was going to cost the state quite a bit of money as police officers spend more and more time in hearings.