New Hampshire Superior Court Chief Justice Robert J. Lynn has ordered an independent review of procedures for releasing sexual predators from prison amid public outcry over two sexual offenders being released, despite neither man completing treatment programs. The Manchester Union-Leader said prosecutors wanted Raymond K. Fournier and Richard Hilton committed longer, but the state lost its right to hold them due to a delay of court action. Judge Bruce E. Mohl, who retired in 2007, is to investigate and report back by June 30.
The controversy gained steam this week, following a New Hampshire Supreme Court decision March 19. The high court sided with Fournier’s public defender, in an argument based on the core of the law designed to protect individuals’ liberty. Lawmakers are rallying by a bill to allow prosecutors to file emergency petitions if they run out of time. The court would then have to schedule an immediate probable cause hearing to consider evidence for civil commitment. Fournier, 40, and Hilton, 34, were released because a judge took too long to recommend that they be civilly committed to the secure psychiatric unit at the state prison in Concord after completing their criminal sentences. A third man, Wayne Sawyer, 45, was expected to be released soon because of a similar delay.