You know you’re in a recession when inmates are requesting more jail time in order to wait out the tough economy.
Al Wright has seen inmates act up to avoid being released during the harsh New Hampshire winters, but it was only recently the 28-year corrections veteran got two letters from individuals politely requesting an extended stay behind bars.
Their request however, were denied.
As a superintendent of Rockingham Country House of Corrections, Wright understands that jail time isn’t fun, but he isn’t surprised that a tough economy has some inmates reluctant to be released during a time when jobs are few and temperatures are dropping.
The jail superintendent said he recently received letters from two inmates requesting they be kept in jail despite them having served out their court-ordered sentences. According to Wright the letters essentially asked: “Can I stay the winter?”
“My take on it is the economy is dumping so far that jail isn’t looking as bad,” Wright said.
“It’s not a homeless shelter. I can only hold people on legal orders from the court,” he said.
Wright does not think it is uncommon for some inmates to try and avoid release directly before or during winter because of the challenges it presents for those who often have very little in life, whether money, family connections or the ability to find employment with having a criminal record.
Wright also adds that some inmates will try to violate jail rules in an attempt to avoid being released, but he said the two who recently wrote him letters appear to be part of a new population who are taking a more direct method of trying to stay behind bars.
The Rockingham County jail houses 350 inmates who get a roof over their head, three meals a day and a clean place to stay. While the above amenities are basic, he understands that they are probably viewed as a better alternative to living on the streets — especially during winter.
“It’s not a desirable place where the average person would want to live, but (the jails) are clean, safe, well-lit and very modern compared to when I started,” Wright said.
Wright said he anticipates seeing more of the same thing if the economy continues to slump.