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Holiday parties for inmates limited

N.H. cites $10k spent on '03 event

CONCORD, N.H. -- There will be no family holiday party this year for prison inmates without young children.

In the past, inmates at some prisons were allowed to invite family members for cold cuts, a gift exchange, and photos with Santa Claus.

Stephen J. Curry, Department of Corrections commissioner, has restricted parties this year for inmates. Corrections spokesman Jeffrey J. Lyons said the issue is money.

''We're not trying to say the families aren't important," he said. ''But it's not the department's responsibility to pay for parties for family members."

Relatives of inmates say this is no way to rehabilitate prisoners.

''I know they are in there serving time because they broke the law," said Andrea Angwin, whose brother Stephen Duguay is behind bars. ''But this is three hours out of the whole year."

She said calls to corrections staff and Governor Craig Benson asking about the policy change were not returned.

Inmate parties are paid for with a prisoner recreation fund, which gets money from connection fees charged on pay-phone calls made from prison. Lyons said inmates are making fewer calls this year and added that the department cannot afford to pay guards overtime for monitoring parties.

Lyons said the 2003 party at men's prison in Concord cost about $10,000. Lyons said Curry wanted rules for parties to be consistent at prisons across the state.

Inmates who don't qualify for the party will be allowed to see relatives during regular visiting hours, but it won't be the same as a party, loved ones say.

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