New Hampshire Pardon and Parole Laws
In New Hampshire, provisions relating to pardon and parole are provided under RSA 4:21 through RSA 4:28.
Adult Parole Board
The state adult parole board is composed of seven members who are appointed by the governor with the consent of the council for staggered terms of five years or until their successors are appointed. No member can serve more than 2 consecutive terms[i]. The board is required to hold at least 24 parole hearings each year and each parole hearing has to be held by a hearing panel of three board members[ii].
The board is responsible for paroling prisoners from the state prison and has legal custody of all persons released on parole until they receive their discharge or are recommitted to the prison. The board may also adopt rules relating to the parole process, including the conduct of parole hearings, criteria for evaluating prospective parolees, conditions for the conduct of parolees, and procedures for revocation of parole[iii].
Conditions for Parole
A life convict for murder which was psycho-sexual in nature and committed prior to April 15, 1974, is eligible for parole when s/he shall have served 40 years minus any credits earned under the provisions of RSA 651-A:22 and RSA 651-A:23 and until the board shall recommend to the superior court that said prisoner should be released on parole. The superior court will conduct a hearing and may grant parole to such person if there is a reasonable probability that the prisoner will remain at liberty without violating the law and will conduct himself as a good citizen[iv].
The parole board may grant medical parole to an inmate residing in a state correctional facility, upon fulfillment of the following conditions:
- The inmate has a terminal, debilitating, incapacitating, or incurable medical condition or syndrome, as certified by a licensed physician.
- The cost of medical care, treatment, and resources for the inmate is determined to be excessive.
- The parole board has determined that the inmate will not be a danger to the public, and that there is a reasonable probability that the inmate will not violate the law while on medical parole and will conduct himself or herself as a good citizen.
The administrative director of forensic and medical services may petition the parole board for eligibility hearing on behalf of an inmate. It is to be noted that a medical parole will only be granted by a majority vote of the full seven-member board. The board may request, as a condition of medical parole, that such inmate submit to periodic medical examinations while on medical parole. The administrative director of forensic and medical services reviews the medical examination and reports the findings to the parole board. If the parole board, after review of such findings, determines that the parolee no longer has a terminal, debilitating, incapacitating, or incurable medical condition or syndrome, will revoke the medical parole and the parolee will be returned to the custody of the state[v].
An inmate who has been sentenced to life in prison without parole or sentenced to death will not be eligible for medical parole[vi].
Any person who is on parole may be granted a reduction of the maximum term of his/her sentence equal to one-third of the period of time during which the parolee is at liberty on said permit, if such parolee is not recommitted to the state prison or has not been cited as a parole violator[vii].
Any parolee arrested under RSA 651-A:15-a is entitled to a hearing before the board within 45 days, in addition to any preliminary hearing. The parolee has the right to appear and be heard at the revocation hearing. If the board, after a hearing, finds that the parolee has violated the conditions of parole, the board will revoke the parole and the prisoner will be recommitted to the custody of the commissioner of corrections[viii].
A petition for Pardon or Commutation of Sentence has to be made to the state’s counsel. The governor, with advice of the council, upon application of any convict under sentence of death may grant him/her a pardon on condition that s/he shall be imprisoned for life or any term of years specified in the pardon. The governor’s warrant, reciting such conditions serves as sufficient authority to all officers to carry into effect such conditions[ix].
In the case of pardons, the commissioner of corrections has to make a report upon the petition for the pardon of a person serving a sentence in the state prison before it is referred to the council[x].
The governor, with the advice of the council, may respite the execution of a sentence of death upon a convict while proceedings are pending upon a question of absolute or conditional pardon or if it appears that the convict has become insane, or, being a female, is quick with child, until they have had sufficient time and opportunity for such investigation and consideration or the cause is removed[xi].
The governor may also give a conditional pardon and a prisoner so pardoned must not violate any law during the unexpired term of sentence. Such prisoner will be in the custody of the state parole officer[xii].
If a prisoner violates any of the conditions of pardon, the warden, superintendent, or keeper of the institution will forthwith cause him/her to be arrested and will give written notice to the governor and council of such arrest[xiii]. The prisoner so arrested has to be returned forthwith to the institution from which s/he was released, and has to be confined for the unexpired term of his/her sentence unless the governor orders otherwise[xiv].
[i] RSA 651-A:3.
[iii] RSA 651-A:4.
[iv] RSA 651-A:8.
[v] RSA 651-A:10-a.
[vii] RSA 651-A:12
[viii] RSA 651-A:17.
[ix] RSA 4:23.
[x] RSA 4:22.
[xi] RSA 4:24.
[xii] RSA 4:25.
[xiii] RSA 4:26.
[xiv] RSA 4:27.