Laconia State School
|Laconia State School|
|Building Style||Cottage Plan|
Inmate overcrowding issues of the 1980's and the need to develop goal-orientated programs resulted in the opening of the Lakes Region Facility in Laconia in October 1991.
The site of the new facility was the recently closed Laconia State School for the Developmentally Disabled. There were multiple buildings on the state-owned property laid out in a campus style setting. The infrastructure was already in place, thus the need to use additional state funding was drastically reduced. Negotiations with the City of Laconia proved to be a challenge for the NH-DOC, as local residents and city officials were reluctant to accept a prison. The institution was approved as a temporary measure. However, a series of stipulations including implementing a cap of 300 inmates and restrictions on the types of crimes committed by inmates to be housed there were embraced to allow for the facility to open.
In 1997, LRF became a permanent facility. The 300 cap was increased to 500 with the capability of expanding to 600 beds in the future.
The buildings, many of them built in the 19th century, had been vacant and in disrepair. An inmate labor force was responsible for nearly all of the major renovations. Consequently upon completion, both male and female inmates would be housed at LRF to participate exclusively in substance abuse, educational, self-improvement and other programs.
Over the years some residents were buried in unmarked graves at random locations near the school before this cemetery was opened in 1941. As before, the burials were unmarked graves until the parents organized and asked that all the unmarked graves be identified. In 1976, marked gravestones, purchased by the parents, were laid over each of the graves.
The following is a documentary on both Laconia State School and also the people who had been sent there. This film was directed, produced, edited, and uploaded to YouTube by 1L Media.
- From the New Hampshire Department of corrections web site
Links and Addition Information
- Documentary of the hospital, NH Public Television
- More history of the hospital can be found here
- Post Laconia State School: Life in the Community
- Once there was a place called Laconia...
- An excerpt from Freda Smith's remarks at the official ceremony commemorating the Closing of Laconia State School, June 20, 1991
- Today what used to be the Laconia State School is now a state prison.