Rockingham County jail superintendent: Inmate trusty program successful
The inmate trusty program has come under fire since county investigators revealed allegations against inmate Jarred Brisbois, a trusty accused of breaking into an evidence room to steal heroin and an officer's locker where a firearm, Taser, handcuffs and other belongings were stored.
Authorities say the break-in, which may have compromised criminal cases being prosecuted by East Kingston, allegedly occurred when East Kingston police left Brisbois alone at the police station for several hours.
Trusties are widely used at the Rockingham County Nursing Home to handle jobs like laundry, washing dishes, mowing lawns and other maintenance work.
Church would not comment on the details of the East Kingston incident, which is being investigated by the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department and the Rockingham County Attorney's Office.When asked if the break-in could threaten the future of the trusty program, Church said, "I think it's a possibility."
Church said the inmates — all of whom are considered nonviolent and are serving sentences of a year or less — must be supervised by the police departments that take them. However, he acknowledged that the level of supervision varies from one agency to another."The level of supervision may vary depending on a lot of situations. It works well in most instances," Church said.
Despite problems with trusties stealing, smuggling drugs into the jail and even attempting to walk away from their job sites over the years, Church defended the program and pointed out the benefits to taxpayers and the inmates themselves.
The Rockingham County Nursing Home saves an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 a year by using trusties.
Officials from local police departments that use trusties said they also save because they don't have to hire janitorial staff to mow grass, clean windows and wash cruisers. The departments are only required to transport them and give them lunch; the county pays them $1 a day.Church said the program is also helpful because it's one way to help reintegrate inmates into employment and the world outside the jail. It also shows them another side of law enforcement.