Sytek did his best to kill a similar bill last year, HB 192, when he chaired the subcommittee on the bill. The six-member group defied him and retained HB 192 to make sure Corrections goes through rulemaking before the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules. Today only Corrections and the Parole Board remain free of any statuary requirement to get their policies vetted and approved by lawmakers.
Rep. Sytek has several times publicly denied having an ethical conflict on both HB 192 or SB 373, despite being married to Donna Sytek, the head of the Parole Board. We at CCJR wrote and found sponsors for both bills because the Parole Board for many years deferred to the Department of Corrections on every decision to parole or retain a convicted sexual offender.
SB373 sailed through the Senate on the consent calendar this winter with crucial support from Helen Hanks, the new commissioner of corrections. She opposed HB192 last year. Hanks launched the formal rulemaking process two months ago on the first 120 pages of Corrections rulemaking, which got approved.
We await future public hearings and JLCAR votes on prison rules for the sexual offender treatment program inside the prison, for probation and parole supervision in the community, for the sex offender treatment program outside the walls, for the placement of women in the men’s prison, and for the use of tiny cages for dangerous prisoners during group counseling.
Below is the legislative calendar blurb against SB 373 written by Rep. Sytek.
SB373, requiring rule making by the department of corrections. INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. Rep. John Sytek for Executive Departments and Administration. This bill is substantially the same as HB192, which this House referred for interim study in January. Both bills would require additional rules of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to be subject to RSA 541-A, and the formal rule making process, through JLCAR. This bill required internal process rules, such as those for inmate behavior, be subject to RSA 541- A, and the committee was not convinced that these rules were appropriate for this process. The majority was convinced that this bill was unnecessary since it duplicated the provisions of HB192. Further review of that bill in interim study will ensure that the DOC implements its commitment to update its rules expeditiously, and that effort is progressing. Those who voted against the Inexpedient to Legislate motion wanted to be certain that the DOC maintains its rate of progress and that the legislature would continue to monitor the situation – a kind of belt and suspenders approach. The majority felt referring two very similar bills for interim study would be redundant. Vote 11-7.
He failed to mention that the 2016 performance audit of the sexual offender treatment program was sharply critical of the Parole Board fore failing to do its job. .I have discussed that report with Rep. Sytek, I gave him a copy of it, and he should be familiar with it. All members of his committee received a copy last year.
Page 33 of the audit says that Donna Sytek and her colleagues always took the advice of a secretive board within the prison called the Administrative Review Committee. It was functioning as the real parole board for sexual offenders. Both HB192 and SB373 would have corrected that problem. Here is maybe the key passage from the performance audit.
“Adult Parole Board members reported the type of information relayed to Board members when considering a sexual offender for parole could be improved. For each sexual offender completing the Intensive Sexual Offender Treatment (ISOT) program, the Board received a list of recommendations for further treatment or restrictions which were eventually incorporated as parole conditions. For example, based on the offender’s crime, it was not uncommon for SOT clinicians to recommend restrictions on computer, internet, or social media use; prohibitions on frequenting specific places; or further counseling for other underlying issues. While all Board members stated these recommendations were helpful, members also reported other information such as the sexual offender’s assessment scores, treatment progress, level of participation in treatment, and whether they showed signs of accepting responsibility for their crime would also be helpful for making parole decisions. However, this information was not directly provided by the ISOT program.”
That is an amazing paragraph. For years the Parole Board never received a convicted sexual offender’s assessment scores, treatment progress, level of participation in treatment, and any signs of accepting responsibility for their crime. SB373 would have stopped the Parole Board from abdicating in its job.
Donna Sytek has assured me the Parole Board now receives all that missing information, and one must believe her. But the failure of the Parole Board to fulfill its lawful job for years caused enormous harm to nearly one third of the male prison population. According to the audit report, 200 sexual offenders stayed in prison past their minimum sentences every year for four years. . We have reason to believe most of them never reached the Parole Board before their minimum terms expired.
Click on the link below to read a list of inmate criticisms of the sexual offender treatment program that we received in June of 2016 To read the rest of this article and the inmate comments CLICK HERE