BRENTWOOD — Daniel Hammond might have had two years behind bars for threatening to shoot his ex-girlfriend and her daughter had a batterer's intervention program been offered in the county jail.
Instead, he was sentenced Oct. 1 to one year in jail with a second year on administrative home confinement so he could access the program, which most of the state's jails do not offer. The sentence has left his victim concerned for her safety, which experts in domestic violence say is valid.
"I wish that he could take it in prison, because that's the only way they can be sure that he's not harming anyone," said Shannon Carroll, 34, of Hampton.
Scott Hampton, who leads the batterer's intervention program offered at the Strafford County jail, said the jail is the only one in the state he knows of that offers the program. He said one of the highest risk times for domestic violence to occur is right when an inmate is released from jail and goes back to their partner.
"They just sit in jail and they stew about it, and they get more and more pissed off," Hampton said. "They sort of lash back at her (the victim) when they get released."
Assistant County Attorney Ryan Ollis, who prosecuted Hammond's case, said he would have sought two years incarceration if the batterer's intervention program was offered at the county jail.
Hammond, 35, pleaded guilty in Rockingham Superior Court to two felony counts of domestic violence, as well as one misdemeanor count of violation of a protective order. He was arrested Feb. 22, a day after police said he told an acquaintance he planned to shoot Carroll, her child and her boyfriend. Carroll said she was told Hammond planned to tie her, her daughter and her boyfriend, make her watch as he shot the other two before killing her, then himself.
Carroll had already filed a protective order against Hammond the year before for restraining her in her home. Court documents securing the protective order stated he “appears to be disturbed,” as well as that at one point he wrote to Carroll, “I want you to see it so I’m going to film my death.”
Carroll said she was uneasy accepting the plea and now wishes she took Hammond to trial, even if there was a chance he could be found not guilty. She is considering leaving the area in the next year before Hammond gets out of jail, and she said a second year of incarceration would have at least given her more time to uproot from her home in the Seacoast.
"I am fearful for my life as well as those I hold dear," read Carroll's written victim impact statement she prepared to share during Hammond's Oct. 1. sentencing "Please protect my daughter. I am relying on you to keep us from being a statistic."
Rockingham County jail Superintendent Stephen Church said a number of programs are available at the jail, like for anger management, but Hampton said that program is not conducive to treating domestic violence offenders.
He said anger management focuses on controlling emotions, a skill Hampton said is actually strong among many abusers who turn their anger on and off with ease. Batterer's intervention focuses on addressing why abusers feel an entitlement that leads to their treatment of their partners, Hampton said.
Batterer's intervention has been offered at the Strafford County jail since 2007, according to Hampton. He said it is difficult to track how effective the programs are as trends in recidivism rates are hard to interpret. Sometimes, he said, people leave jail and stay free because they have found new ways to be abusive.
Hampton said there is anecdotal evidence of success in having the program offered in jail. He said since the program began in Strafford County, people who start the program in jail and are expected to continue it after being released appear to be two or three times less likely to drop out of the program.
Hampton also said jails can be a poor environment for domestic violence offenders to try rehabilitate without treatment. He said people in jail often find themselves surrounded by sexism, racism and homophobia that make it difficult for batterers to rehabilitate without a proper program.
"We aren't doing them any favors by warehousing them there," he said. "It's a serious problem and, yeah, we should take it more seriously... These kinds of programs in the jails can have a significant preventative effect."