the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Teen Charged a Years Wages to be Saved

Posted by Jeff Id on July 17, 2009

Sure the kid screwed up but what is the rubbish about being saved and then having your parents money stolen by the govt.

Eagle Scout Lost on Mountain Fined $25,000 for Rescue

CONCORD, N.H. — A Massachusetts teenager who spent three nights alone on Mount Washington in April after he sprained an ankle and veered off marked trails has been fined more than $25,000 for the cost of his rescue.

Scott Mason had been praised for utilizing his Eagle Scout skills — sleeping in the crevice of a boulder and jump-starting fires with hand sanitzer gel. But authorities say he wasn’t prepared for the conditions he encountered and shouldn’t have set out on such an ambitious hike.

“Yes, he’d been out there in July when you could step across the brooks. And people have been out there in winter in hard-packed snow. But with these spring conditions, it was soft snow, it was deep snow,” said Fish and Game Maj. Tim Acerno.

Acerno said he believes Mason’s fine is the largest ever sought under a 9-year-old New Hampshire law that allows lost hikers and climbers to be charged for rescue costs. Mason’s rescue was particularly expensive because the helicopters the state typically used were unavailable, and a helicopter from Maine had to be brought in, Acerno said.

Mason, 17, of Halifax, Mass., had planned to spend one day hiking 17 miles in the New Hampshire mountains but ended up lost after he hurt his ankle and decided to take a shortcut. The shortcut led him into rising water and deep snow caused by unseasonably warm weather.


Mason was negligent in continuing up the mountain with an injury and veering off the marked path, Acerno said. Negligence, he said, is based on judging what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.

“When I twist my ankle, I turn around and come down. He kept going up,” Acerno said.

“It was his negligence that led to him getting into that predicament,” he said. “Once he was in that predicament, yes, that’s what we praise him for — he used his Boy Scout skills, and that’s why he’s still alive.”

Several states, including neighboring Maine and Vermont, have rescue repayment laws similiar to New Hampshire, though others tend to be more lenient. In Washington state, a bill that would have created a reimbursement system with fines capped at $500 never even made it out of committee this year. In New Hampshire, however, lawmakers made it even easier to charge for rescues last year when they changed the law to allow fines for those who acted negligently instead of the harder to prove standard of recklessness.


God bless America and GOD FU.. these bastards. When you’re screwed, it’s good to know our over-paid WAY over-pensioned government employees will be happy to over-charge you for it. Did the rescue squad present the bill and the option to decline rescue? How long does it take for a 17 year old to pay 25,000 dollars?? Is that his college fund?

Sure the kid was an idiot, what’s the excuse of the govt? Who pays the salaries when the helicopters don’t fly?? Do the pilots get paid less?

Perhaps the taxpayers get a refund of the money invested in the rescue program?,2933,533641,00.html

56 Responses to “Teen Charged a Years Wages to be Saved”

  1. Jeff Id said

    Sorry, lost my temper a bit.

    After reconsidering — not sorry.

  2. Jeff Id said

    Still pissed. Screw em.

  3. Jeff Id said

    I hope they don’t pay.

  4. Ryan O said

    The idea that private citizens have to pay for emergency services like this is f*$&@!ng ludicrous.

    Sometimes I hate our government.


    Maybe lots of times . . .

  5. thechuckr said

    They should not pay and take the government to court. Maybe one of your readers could take this case pro bono. It is time to draw a line in the sand and tell local, state and federal goverment that we are not going to suffer the erosion of our freedom and liberty anymore. This kind of crap makes me furious!

  6. John M said

    Maybe he should incorporate, declare bankruptcy because of the fine, get himself a government bailout, and pay himself a big bonus.

    I guess he might have to wait for the next election and do his fair share of campaigning for the winner first, though.

  7. scp said

    New Hampshire’s policy is mentioned around 4:00. If people are responsible for their own rescues, maybe they’ll learn to be more responsible in their risk-taking. I thought you were a conservative… What makes the Nanny state OK for an Eagle Scout? Why should I be taxed to pay for his lack of preparation?

    If he didn’t know he was responsible for his own rescue in the state of NH, he should have. Time for the boy to be a man and pay the piper.

  8. Jeff Id said

    #7 if the cost of the rescue were within reason I would agree. This kind of money is asinine and a huge punishment for someone getting lost which is an easy thing to do in the woods. Maybe we should ask why it cost 25000 dollars to fly a helicopter from not too far away. If you’ve ever observed a government office in action my guess is that the 25000 doesn’t even cover the costs actually spent.

  9. Ryan O said

    The idea of having to pay for emergency services is ludicrous.

    In my opinion, government should have only two missions: 1) Security and safety of the people within its borders; and, 2) Preservation of individual rights. #2 is used to choose between various ways of meeting #1. That’s it. Everything else follows from those two.

    Some are direct. Why have a military? See #1. Why have police? See #1. Why have a fire department? See #1.

    Some are indirect. Why have a strong economy? Affluence of the general population tends to decrease crime and violence while also increasing overall health and lifespan. A strong economy also allows for a strong military. It generates tax revenue to pay for these services.

    In my opinion, where our government went off the rails was when we decided it should have more “purposes” than #1 and #2. In the end, many of these “purposes” end up resulting in decisions that detract from #1 and #2. I could go on for pages and pages, but I’ll leave it there for now.

    This is one of those cases. If one of the fundamental purposes of government is security and safety, then it is a public service. It is paid for by taxes. Period.

    It wouldn’t be an issue at all if we weren’t wasting so much money on the rest of the frivolous “purposes”.

    I’ll probably write more on this later.

  10. Jeff Id said

    Write it up.- People would like it and it’s better than saying it to your family.

    The Air Vent, Relieving pressure for over 10 months.

  11. DeWitt Payne said

    Ryan O said
    July 18, 2009 at 10:15 am

    The idea of having to pay for emergency services is ludicrous.

    If you call 911 for an ambulance, you or your insurance company will be charged for it. If you damage guardrail in a single vehicle accident, you will be charged for it in most states. How is this case any different in principle? IMO, he got off cheap. Flying a helicopter is dangerous business under normal circumstances. Flying into the wild makes it a lot worse. The idea that you can do something stupid and have someone else pick up the pieces for you at no cost to you is ludicrous.

  12. Page48 said

    It seems to me that locating lost hikers wouldn’t be so difficult or expensive if they were required to carry GPS devices of some sort.

  13. Ryan O said

    Okay. Here goes.

    This idea of “negligence” is ridiculous. Why was the kid negligent? Because Park Ranger Dillweed says so? Because the kid kept hiking after he sprained his ankle and Park Ranger Dillweed and the amorphous “Average Joe” (who is mysteriously unavailable for comment) would have made a different decision? I’ve made the same decision as the kid numerous times.

    So when I decide to go camping in the Pintlar mountains in Montana when it’s 30 below (raw temperature) and there’s 2 feet of snow, my decision is “negligent” because Dillweed and Joe wouldn’t do it? I’ve done this, and I will do it again, and I do not consider it negligent in spite of the fact that Dillweed and Joe wouldn’t do it. Why? Because I know what I’m doing.

    Or what about free climbers? Is their decision to free climb negligent because Dillweed and Joe wouldn’t do it? Or surfers? Or cave divers? Or any activity that is beyond the ability of the average person to perform?

    Give me a break.

    If the activity is not illegal, then someone should be free to perform it. And if someone is free to perform it, a fine simply because the activity they chose is different than what Dillweed and Joe would have done is patently stupid.

    If the government of New Hampshire believes that a hiking on a sprained ankle is worthy of a confiscatory fine, then it should be illegal. Or, to generalize, if the activity of hiking on public land comes with restrictions on how an individual may conduct the hike, then the activity should be prohibited without a proper license – just like hunting and fishing and driving your frickin car. The proceeds from the sale of licenses would then be used to cover the cost of maintaining a search and rescue team, and the licenses should be priced appropriately. Or, if that seems excessive, then the activity should be prohibited until the would-be hiker has attended a training session on preparedness and the situations that would result in a charge for rescue services.

    And if that seems like overkill for the ability to hike on public lands – well, I agree entirely. But it’s more consistent and fair than a confiscatory fine for someone who does something that Dillweed and Joe happen not to agree with.

    Not to pick on you, DeWitt, but do “non-negligent” 911 callers get the ambulance ride for free and only the negligent ones get charged? Or does everyone get charged? If everyone got charged for search-and-rescue services, then my comments would be different. The ambulance analogy is not entirely apt, either. Most ambulance services are private enterprises (albeit many are subsidized with public money). They are generally not a public service.

    An apt analogy would have been if the police charge you for their time to respond to a car accident. You may get a fine for driving drunk or reckless driving – but those fines are because you have done something that was pre-defined as ILLEGAL – and those fines are fines for performing the illegal activity and not recompense for the fact that the police responded.

  14. DeWitt Payne said

    You seem to me to be confounding the freedom to do something with being also free of the consequences of what you do. Of course he was free to go hiking and to decide to continue hiking after he twisted his ankle. He was also free to leave the marked trail. Most of the time you get away with making a few bad decisions. Sometimes you don’t. Being free of the consequences of your actions leads to moral hazard.

    Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its doings, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it alternately would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. For example, a person with insurance against automobile theft may be less cautious about locking his or her car, because the negative consequences of vehicle theft are (partially) the responsibility of the insurance company. [Wikipedia]

    Being rescued is not free. Other people become involved. Some of them even risk their own lives. I would charge, and expect to be charged, costs for any unusual help in being rescued from the consequences of a voluntary activity whether or not there was negligence or recklessness involved. I wouldn’t call it a fine, though. Responding to a highway accident is a normal and expected part of police business and is covered by taxpayer revenue and fines for illegal activity. Everything else you pay for, wrecker, ambulance or medivac helicopter, etc. Flying a helicopter into the mountains to rescue an injured hiker is something that should never be free of charge.

    Whether an ambulance is provided by local government or a private service, the individual should be and, AFAIK, is charged for using it.

  15. scp said

    Although it seems to be a trend, I will refrain from calling any of the ideas expressed here ludicrous. I’m sure we all have good reasons for our opinions.

    Those of you who think the kid should have some kind of a safety net to save him from his hiking mis-adventure, how ’bout setting up a fund to help him out of his jam? How ’bout contributing something to it? Would that be too hard? It seems that you’d rather just use the government as your weapon to take money away from the good citizens of New Hampshire and decide how to spend it for them. How ’bout ponying up some of your own money first? Or maybe the boy could show some responsibility and initiative and set up his own fund. He’s got national publicity now and everyone likes an Eagle Scout. I’ll bet that if he works hard at it, he could raise enough to negotiate a settlement.

    Giving is not charity when the donation is made looking down the barrel of a gun. There are better ways than government thievery to accomplish good things.

  16. white elefant said

    Here in Europe most rescue services are free, at least I haven’t heard of anyone being charged 5 digit sums.

    There is a sentence in the article which I would like to understand:

    “deep snow caused by unseasonably warm weather”

    so global warming is causing more snow? Like now in Argentina? Or in Austria (snow chain advisory in effect on some moutain pass roads in the middle of July)?

  17. curious said

    Scp – to be honest I would chip in for it.

    From the coverage I’ve seen it’s hard to know what the facts are but I think it reads like a young guy got in trouble not in some bad way like commiting a crime but misadventure in which he aquitted himself reasonably well.

    If the family wanted to use a charity fund to try and get a fully itemised bill for their £25K I’d also support that. Maybe there is a case for fees to be paid for rescue but IMO its a sign of a civilised society that we’ll pick people up when things go wrong. What are the stats. on these incidents? From the article linked:

    ” Mason’s rescue was particularly expensive because the helicopters the state typically used were unavailable, and a helicopter from Maine had to be brought in, Acerno said.”

    ” New Hampshire officials have estimated that they could seek reimbursement in about 40 of the 140 or so rescues it typically handles each year. The money goes to the Fish and Game department’s rescue fund. In most cases, hikers pay a few hundred dollars.

    For the fiscal year that ended June 30, there were 131 missions that cost $175,320, Acerno said. He did not know how many of them resulted in fines.”

    It seems like $1500 is an average cost so $25K seems like a lot to me – how much is helicopter time $500/hr? $1000/hr? Are they passing on the whole cost of bringing in out of state helicopters? Is there a service level agreement on the helicopters the state normally uses? Were other options checked out? If one is expected to pick up a bill of this kind I think one has the right to ask how it is arrived at don’t you? Is there a case that the state were negligent in not having rescue services available? Does anyone audit their search and rescue operation to see how good a job they did for $25k? Could he have been found just with a skilled foot search from the route he was on? etc

    Re: the risk of life to rescuers – yes its a fair point. Ws that the case here? Were flying conditions bad etc etc? Or were the choppers simply flying recon? In the UK there is a history of mountain/cave rescue turning out as volunteers to get people out in all sorts of conditions. Who knows maybe this young guy will go on to work in rescue?

    As far as negligence goes – what do the Eagle Scouts have to say? The article reads as if he’d notified his route and intended to follow a marked trail? What is their official advice to members re: insurance cover for rescue costs in the case of mishaps? Or on carrying locator beacons? Or giving whistle signals?

    To my mind $200K a year in rescue fund costs is small money compared to the benefits of outdoor activity and appreciation so best wishes to him and his family and I hope they get damn clear account of why $25k is being asked of them. So how about you – would you put in $20? Or would you and your kin never get in a scrape or the wrong end of years net wage bill?

    btw – good book by Aron Ralston “Between a rock and a hard place”.

  18. Ryan O said


    No. I am not saying that people should be free of the consequences of their decisions at all. If everyone is charged for the costs of a rescue, then it is a known risk you take when hiking – which is exactly what I said about the ambulance example.

    What is ludicrous is that people can be charged based on an ex ante determination of negligence because negligence is horribly defined and inconsistently applied, and is specific not only to the situation but also to the knowledge and training of the individual. What is negligence in one case for one person is not necessarily negligence in a different case or for a different person. Would it be negligent for me to go camping in 30 below weather? No, I don’t think so. I know what I’m doing. Would it be negligent for some city dweller from Manhattan to do the same thing when he’d never previously stepped foot in anything more wild then Central Park? Probably. But should we be treated any differently if we need assistance?

    I don’t think so.

  19. Mark T said

    Sorry, but his misfortune should not be the public’s burden to bear. Might as well say he gets an automatic salary just for having the misfortune of being born. To assume we the people should pay is the same as advocating socialism.

    Paying for your rescue is an absolutely appropriate response. It is well known that any time you enter into wilderness lands you will have to pay for any rescue services. If he did not know this fact, it is his own fault – this alone is his negligent act. In CO we pay an insurance fee of 25 cents when we get a fishing license. This fee covers any rescues in CO. You can also buy separate insurance for $5.00/year (I think).


  20. DeWitt Payne said


    Negligence, as is usually the case, was the result of several bad decisions not the experience level of the individual, which was clearly adequate for the original decision to go hiking. 1. He continued hiking after injuring himself. 2. He left the marked trail to go cross country (did he have topo maps of the area with him?). 3. He made a bad choice of route cross country (which would suggest he didn’t have a map). Any one of these decisions could be defended as just careless rather than negligent. But combine them, particularly the decision to go cross country while physically compromised, and I believe most lawyers would tell you that your case wouldn’t fly and your legal fees would make the fine pale into insignificance.

    As far as an arbitrary ex ante determination of negligence, that’s just how it’s always done. You don’t get to decide if you’re negligent. A local Fish and Game officer would be high on my list of people competent to determine negligence in this case. You generally don’t want to have a formal hearing in a situation like this either. Then you’ll have to pay a lawyer and court costs too. As far as arbitrary, the highway patrol doesn’t stop all speeders. They’re after big game. I’ve sailed past many parked highway patrol cars at 75 in a 65 zone on the Interstate without a hitch, along with a lot of other cars at similar speed. In fact, if you slam on the brakes when you see one, he’ll think you have a radar detector and go after you just for that, in VA anyway.


    Negligence does not require malicious intent. Was someone who bought a house he couldn’t really afford to live in with a no down payment, interest only, adjustable rate loan at the height of the housing boom negligent? Probably. Did he set out to intentionally defraud the mortgage issuer? Probably not. He expected to flip the house in a year or two for a big profit. Are we going to bail him out now anyway? I would say it’s an odds on bet.

  21. Ryan O said

    DeWitt, I do not accept an argument of “that’s just how it’s always done” as adequate. That may be how it’s always done, but that doesn’t make it right. It simply makes it expedient, and “right” and “expedient” are often at odds with each other.

    There are only two consistent ways to apply this. Either rescue is a free, or it is a paid service. Deciding whether it is paid or free after the fact based on negligence opens the system up to all kinds of unfair decision making because negligence is far more arbitrary and subjective a criterion than, say, recklessness. And because negligence is such an easy thing to claim, it can distort the decision making process when it comes to the issue of recompense.

    For example, if their own helicopters had been available (thus greatly reducing the cost of the effort), would they have tried to call his actions negligent and demand repayment? Or is the special circumstance that the state did not have its normal helicopters available – resulting in a much more expensive rescue – lead them to the decision to demand repayment? I rather suspect the latter. There’s only so much $$ in the budget, and somebody’s ass is probably on fire because they overspent for the quarter, or year, or whatever period they use for tracking.

  22. Jeff Id said

    #20 I really dislike your analogy. A great deal of the bad housing loans came from minorities and poor who banks knew weren’t able to pay but were afraid to deny. Are the banks liable– or the politicians who set the climate for the banks?

    I say politicians, however they were in the pockets of the bankers who simply got some their campaign contributions back a hundredfold when bad policies went south. Just look at the biggest contributors to the senate and congress. Check which parties got the contributions.

    I like Ryan’s two rules. My point above is that government services have already been paid and like all government UNION services are vastly over priced. It’s not like free medicine which people have an obvious incentive to abuse, nobody wants to get lost. However, just like socialized medicine will be, the costs are higher than what are reasonable. Why should anyone have to pay five times what it should cost to be rescued? Why should anyone have to pay any damn cost with the taxes we currently pay?

    You can claim that negotiation of liability in court will sort it out, I have experience with court. It’s nothing but a money flush with a near random outcome. People that put faith in it are naive, but I don’t blame them b/c most Americans have been raised to believe in the system. Courts, police, prosecutors are as pre-determinedly corrupted by advocacy as any congressional committee vote on a bill.

  23. Kenneth Fritsch said

    My libertarian instincts as would be applied in my ideal libertarian world would be more in line with Mark T comments above. We do not, however, live in that world – not even close – so this incident has to be judged and reacted to in the context of the world we do live in.

    Acerno said he believes Mason’s fine is the largest ever sought under a 9-year-old New Hampshire law that allows lost hikers and climbers to be charged for rescue costs. Mason’s rescue was particularly expensive because the helicopters the state typically used were unavailable, and a helicopter from Maine had to be brought in, Acerno said.

    I think this excerpt from Jeff’s thread introduction may telling. A law that allows lost hikers and climbers to be charged for rescue would appear to allow for some arbitrariness in its application. If Massachusetts had state operated helicopters available for this rescue perhaps those sunk costs would have minimized the fine and perhaps the fine is cover for the fact that Massachusetts was without rescue equipment at the time. It would also appear that the rescue costs are not limited to some maximum amount and that the state could more or less arbitrarily charge what it wants and spend on the rescue what it wants. These are all government operational problems that would not occur if the rescue were a matter of a private contractual agreement with an insuring body. Even the fact that the rescuee was a 17 year old (minor?) must have some impact on the fine imposition.

    It might be well to delve into the details of the prevailing law and the incident before judging the case.

    I see this incident in the light of what I see our government doing in Illinois in the face of great budget deficiencies. The bargaining chip is to hold the recipients of state aid hostage in an attempt to get the taxes raised so that government spending can continue on the binge it has been on for many years now. No mention is made by the party in power of government workers who receive good compensation and great retirement benefits or other cost saving actions. So, while in my ideal world, there would not be recipients (and dependents on) state aid, in this case I get mad as hell when I see what the politicians are doing.

    As an aside while visiting at the three story condo residence of my son’s inlaws last weekend an alarm switch in the hallway was inadvertently pulled by someone who thought it was a light switch. The fire department arrived as I was told they do once the alarm is sounded – with no taking it back. In light of the discussion here I’ll have to check on the charges involved with this incident and who paid them.

  24. Jon P said

    This is so screwed up. Just think about this; why do we not charge criminals for the cost of their incarceration?

  25. DeWitt Payne said


    I’ve had trouble finding costs associated with helicopters, but it’s definitely way higher than $1000/hour. The cost of the bird itself is in the millions of dollars. I did find one reference from the UK published in 2007 saying it cost 6,000 UK pounds to mobilize a medivac helicopter with full crew for one flight.


    WRT your last paragraph in #22 above, I quote from my post above:

    You generally don’t want to have a formal hearing in a situation like this either. Then you’ll have to pay a lawyer and court costs too.

    As far as bad loans, can you define “a great deal” in terms of percentages of total bad loans or better in terms of total dollar amount compared to total dollars in all bad loans? Barney Frank and the Community Reinvestment Act were holding a gun to the heads of the banks to make these loans too.

    Final thoughts: The kid made several bad decisions and was experienced enough to have known better. He’s lucky to be alive. $25,000 is cheap considering the alternative. Paying the cost of rescue should be the rule, not the exception. I would say buy insurance if you’re planning on hiking in NH, but any private insurance would likely have a negligence clause that would limit payout if the insured made as many bad decisions as this kid.

  26. Ryan O said

    I still fail to understand the “as many bad decisions as this kid” part. I’ve twisted my ankle lots – both hunting and hiking. I never follow marked paths. Am I negligent?

  27. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Just think about this; why do we not charge criminals for the cost of their incarceration?

    Libertarians have thought about that and certainly one of the first principles of crimal justice should be restitution to those against whom the crime was committed. That is hardly managed by giving the criminal free room and board. I think that some states that have been totally negligent in their fiscal responsibilities are seriously considering letting some of those incarcerated out of prison as a cost savings measure. I assume they will not be boarding them at the local Hilton.

  28. Jeff Id said

    In many states incarceration is in the top three businesses. Iowa, it’s #2 right behind agriculture. Because profit is involved, the privately operated prisons are incented to stay full and guards, sheriffs and parole officers do make sure this is the case. If states can charge inmates who’s lives are already 100% destroyed and require no additional hurdles, it becomes a profit center for the state. In the most understated way I can say it, allowing states to charge inmates for their stay would be a disastrous and foolish mistake.

  29. curious said

    Hi – DeWitt – re: chopper costs – in the UK one can hire a 5 seater jet ranger pleasure flight for £740/hr which must include a profit element. I don’t know where the £6k per flight comes from – did they give any breakdown? Sounds very high to me – think about the salaries involved – but perhaps if they only fly a few times per month and it includes major fixed cost items like a hangar etc etc it could be made to stack up. In the case in hand we do not have anything other than he was out for 3 days and the the helicopter costs were much greater than if the regular choppers were available. We don’t know if the choppers were full “medivac” or just recon. piloted by volunteers – maybe the info. is out there with a few Googles?

    To expand this to the whole sorry state of the credit being offered to those without the means and security to pay is missing the point. This $25k charging is an arbitrary after the fact fee which at present serves no good purpose. If it results in a consistent, fair and clear policy for rescue services then maybe I’d revise that POV.

  30. scp said

    Well, I still think the kid should be responsible for any reasonable costs of his rescue, and I think the Colorado insurance model described by Mark T. makes good sense, but more important than what any of us think is what the law says.

    They’re claiming negligence, not recklessness, right? Also, note the cap (assuming the web site is current).

    CHAPTER 153-A
    Reimbursement for Public Agency Response Services
    Section 153-A:24
    153-A:24 Responsibility for Public Agency Response Services. –
    I. A person shall be liable for response expenses if, in the judgment of the court, such person:
    (a) Negligently operates a motor vehicle, boat, off highway recreational vehicle, or aircraft while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or controlled drug and thereby proximately causes any incident resulting in a public agency response;
    (b) Takes another person or persons hostage or threatens to harm himself or another person, thereby proximately causing any incident resulting in an appropriate public agency response; or
    (c) Recklessly or intentionally creates a situation requiring an emergency response.
    II. A person’s liability under this subdivision for response expenses shall not exceed $10,000 for any single public agency response incident.

    Source. 1999, 345:6, eff. July 1, 1999.

  31. Artifex said

    Some of my frustration with cases like this goes back to first principles.

    At some point in the past, it was argued that things like public parks were public goods and as such should be support via a general tax. Such things are all well and good, and one can make a realistic argument that you must support such activities via a tax to avoid the classic free rider problem. Unfortunately, shortly after birth any state agency cares more about its survival and funding than the job it was originally designated to perform. Since the supply of tax funds is limited, the beast need to satisfy an ever increasing hunger for funds from other sources. Evolutionary pressures eventually do what political ideology never could. Someone in the organization realizes “Hey, we can collect use fees !”. This applies to rescues, camp spots or even just entrance fees.

    My frustration here is that they hold a gun to the publics head to collect public funds, but when push comes to shove, they indirectly claim they are NOT a public good and we should be funding them via use fees. Guys, it is one or the other. If you can’t charge “per use”, I really have no problem with something as wonderful as parks being publicly funded. If you can charge on a per use basis, what the heck are my taxes supporting ? In the case of per use does it even make sense for you to be a state entity ? From a pragmatic point of view, is any portion of the helicopter maintenance, pilot salary or ranger salary coming from the public trough ? If so, this kid has been charged twice for the same service.

  32. scp said

    Ahh, apparently negligence was added by a new (June, 2008?) law. Maybe the cap changed too?

    I also note that the Eagle Scout is from Mass., not New Hampshire. Presumably, neither he nor his parents have paid any taxes in support of the rescue that saved his life.

  33. Mark T said

    and I think the Colorado insurance model described by Mark T. makes good sense

    I think that insurance I paid is only for CO parks, federal or otherwise. The other fee, the $5.00/year (it may be $12.00, I don’t recall for sure), may actually be for all federal parks hence why it is so much more expensive.

    Whether they made a determinition of negligence after the fact or not is irrelevant. That was simply them being nice enough to give an opt out, i.e., if you are not negligent, we’ll be socialist and the people will pay your bill. Just about every single park (state or federal, probably even local) in the country clearly states that you enter at your own risk and will be required to pay for rescue services if needed. Sorry, but this guy loses simply for not knowing this.

    I can’t believe that anyone posting in here would condone the public paying for this.


  34. Jon P said


    Blah blah blah

  35. Gary P said

    I wonder how much money the state of New Hampshire spends on trying to attract vacationers? Well I won’t be spending any money there. I fact I have lost all interest in visiting any part of New England. I’ll try to make comments on appropriate NH web sites when possible.

  36. Jeff Id said

    #34, Really?

  37. Jon P said


    Yeah really. Look there are indications of problems with private run prisons, but a little more light on the situation can remedy that rather quickly. But to simply allow a violent criminal who will spend 10+ years in prison to have zero liability on that cost is absurd.

    Let them work on infrastructure projects or some other work program. If they have assests yes take a portion to compensate the enormous cost of their incarceration.

    I’d rather pay to find a Boy Scout than house a murderer 11 out of 10 times..

  38. Jeff Id said


    You would need a license to be more wrong on this. Murderers are typically not released so most criminals were on drugs. The murderers who are released typically have extenuating circumstances which led to the crime.

    Consider that prisoners have no means for making money when released. Consider that it’s nearly impossible to be hired. By your method, the only way to recover from imprisonment would be through a successful crime. It’s moronic to release people and not give a chance to recover. We might as well keep them in prison. However, the real insanity of your idea is in making it a profit center for governments to imprison people! — I wonder how well that would work.. he he he..

    By the way, don’t assume that everyone in prison is actually guilty. Our system is highly corrupted in favor of the police. Sure bad people get let go sometimes, most times it favors the police and innocent people get fried!

  39. Jon P said

    You did not even read my options / opinions. You have your mind made up and stand there a tell me with such confidence how wrong I am. Whats the point of even having a discussion? You seem firmly entrenched and are already on your mountain top passing judgement. I kinda see why TCO is the way he is with you.

    If you are the judge on my being right or wrong than I feel quite relieved. Stick with climate and stats, you suck at this.

  40. Jeff Id said

    #39 – Sorry, I thought I understood what you said. I am often wrong but have strong opinions on this.

  41. Jeff Id said

    I should add Jon, that I’ve seen an known innocent family member’s life destroyed by the system. My experience was comparable to watching a hanging of your mother for a crime she didn’t commit so I’m a touch bitter.

  42. Jon P said

    Tell ya what Jeff I must be biased because I sat on a jury for 7 weeks and ended up being the foreman in deliberations. Two defendants both found guilty of 1st degree murder and the gang and weapons (.45 Auto) allegations were also found to be true.

    They were neither on drugs nor drunk. They were out looking for trouble and they found it and an innocent young man is dead and a woman has had life altering wounds.

    So I guess you and I should not be discussing this topic with each other. I can respect that.

  43. Jeff Id said

    Why not?

    I’d be happy to throw the switch on the bastards – honestly. Pull the trigger, lever, switch, whatever. It’s good to know those guys won’t be coming out of prison any time soon. People don’t realize how the jury suffers through these things either. A sincere thanks from me to you.

    My point is that when the punishment is done, it’s done or we make the problem worse. We also have to be careful not to incent the state to imprison any more than federal money already does. You wouldn’t want to release these bastards and then make it impossible for them to eat, right? We know what that would get us. IMO, the prisoners who are released start over with a record, nothing else.

    I am sorry if I misunderstood you.

  44. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Because profit is involved, the privately operated prisons are incented to stay full and guards, sheriffs and parole officers do make sure this is the case. If states can charge inmates who’s lives are already 100% destroyed and require no additional hurdles, it becomes a profit center for the state. In the most understated way I can say it, allowing states to charge inmates for their stay would be a disastrous and foolish.

    I think what you are saying has not so much to do with private prisons but that the state can be politically susceptible to keeping its prisons full from many benefiting sources – be the prisons private or public. The link and excerpt below detail some of these influences.

    Moreover, though private prison companies do lobby state and federal governments, so do prison guard unions, which also benefit from increased incarceration rates and prison construction. [32] Prison guard unions generally contribute vastly more money to politicians than do private prison companies. [33] The California prison guard union, for example, endorses and contributes millions of dollars to state candidates and is among the largest campaign donors in the state. [34] Does privatization further distort criminal policy by replacing a single strong voice for incarceration with two voices? Or does the second, private, voice weaken the first by generally weakening the underlying public sector union? The answer is unclear.

    We are getting off topic here, but with the severe problems of state budgets maybe the money wasted incarcerating those who have committed victimless crimes will be reconsidered and even perhaps not incarcerating those who have committed nonviolent crimes and instead letting them perform work that will better allow them to compensate victims of their crimes.

    Violent criminals who spend their days body building at the public’s, and even their victims, expense somehow seems ludicrous to me. That pent-up energy would seem to be better and more productively applied doing something to pay victim compensation and their room and board.

    But perhaps the politicians, like you note, have too big a stake in incarceration to make any changes.

  45. Jeff Id said

    #44, Always have a good word don’t you Kenneth. 🙂

    I agree, besides the fact that I’m not sure if this thread has much topic left, the criminals should be put to work and their work should benefizt the victims the imprisoners. While they’re in prison, it seems like an ideal punishment. The admittedly guilty, of which there are many, would take some pride in that they are working to help pay back their crimes.

  46. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I kinda see why TCO is the way he is with you.

    No, TCO is the way he is with everyone and not just Jeff. By the way your comment here and its intent is very much in the style of TCO, in my opinion.

    I think I agree with you more on this topic than I do Jeff, but lets keep the discussion on the facts and forget the personalities.

    Jeff, I cannot see where your anecdote about a miscarriage of justice has a bearing on private prisons or criminals compensating victims and the system. That’s a separate issue.

  47. Jon P said

    I do not propose a system that would make them pay AFTER release. Paying cash is not the only or even best option. I would prefer to see them out doing labor, something constructive for the community.

  48. Jeff Id said


    My point about injustice is separate- fair enough. The reason I mentioned it is because my tone was too strong. However my opinion hasn’t changed. Prisoners should not be additionally punished beyond the standard. It serves no purpose and is actually highly damaging to any potential for recovery.

    Nearly every politician runs on stronger punishment, people follow along happily with thoughts of murderers needing to be put away. We all read about occasional murderers like OJ Simpson getting let go and holler in defiance. The issue is much deeper and more complex than that. Punishments and laws are very strong and arbitrary already. My point is that we must not ever ever incent the state to profit by imprisonment.

    Unfortunately, it may be that we already have created the problem because states may receive federal money for imprisonment. Imagine if the parole board has a budget to meet and it’s your turn for release, do you want to have money incenting them to prevent your release? Do you think anyone on earth would give a sh// if you screamed you were incarcerated because of money? You’re a wise person with more time on this rock than myself so I doubt it. My own opinion is that we shouldn’t for a moment suspect that being honest will keep us from incarceration, incorrect imprisonment happens VERY often.

    To my way of thinking, this is not a non-issue. It’s real and it does affect peoples entire lives already. If Jon writes back I may respond, otherwise I’m going to let this go.

  49. Jeff Id said

    #47, Agreed. Put the incarcerated to work, but not to the benefit of the state.

  50. AEGeneral said

    Apparently Nancy Pelosi has found out about this and has chimed in.

    I’m paraphrasing, but in essence she said that if Scott Mason could find a job making $14/hr, it would only take him six months to pay it back versus a year. She went on to say that this is yet another illustration of why we need the minimum wage rate raised to $14/hr, for people like Scott.

    Ba-da-boom. Yes, I will keep my day job.

  51. Kenneth Fritsch said

    My point is that we must not ever ever incent the state to profit by imprisonment


    I would put this in a slightly different light and that being that the problem is that politicians profit from incarceration and do so under the current system when prison workers are unionized and giving contributions to politicians and I suspect that once a prison is located in a given locale and that locale comes to depend on the jobs that prison provides an additional political pressure appears.

    Jeff, you seem to be confounding a poorly functioning system of criminal justice, as you see it, with what happens to the incarcerated criminals. The death penalty in some states has been suspended due to the numbers of cases where a person was improperly incarcerated for a capital offence. I guess applying that logic in the extreme would say if you have a faulty criminal justice you should stop incarcerations all together. It would appear to me that the solution for the death penalty is to fix the criminal justice system and that suspending the death penalty allows the state to ignore the root cause of the problem. I personally do not see that life in prison is any, or much, better than being executed for crime that one did not commit.

    By the way what happens if the 17 year old hiker refuses to pay the $25,000 penalty? Does he get incarcerated? Do his parents get incarcerated? Would an attempt to collect the fine from the parents make a case for the 17 year old not being a responsible adult and would that standing let him off the hook for applying the fine in the first place?

  52. counters said


    Said Eagle Scout made some very un-Eagle Scout-like choices during his hike – choices that his training should have prevented him from making. The most egregious was hiking alone; even for something as trivial as a day hike, we have to consider Murphy’s Law. At its essence, that’s what the Scout motto considers – ‘Be Prepared.’ The most effective way of being prepared – a point driven into his training many, many times – is to bring along a buddy.

    The poor decisions compound from there. He injured himself but did not factor that into his travel plans. This decision is especially poor considering that his injury impaired his mobility. We outdoorsman have all made similar poor judgments in the past (I know I sure have) but that doesn’t excuse the behavior.

    He also went bushwhacking or trailblazing. Again, all outdoorsman tend to do this. But that doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate thing to do – especially if you’re alone and injured.

    There are a lot of other general rules which he learned during his scout training that he broke here as well, but these are the three big ones which he most certainly should have known to avoid.

  53. Ryan O said

    Counters, I am an Eagle Scout myself, and I do not consider his actions or decisions to be particularly negligent. Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree. Note that the definition of negligent rests on the fact that a reasonable person would not have made those same decisions. I certainly have made similar decisions, and you admitted that you have, too. So were his actions negligent? I would argue not. Were they the brightest decisions he could have made? No, they weren’t. But inadvisable is not the same thing as negligent.

  54. counters said


    Nice to encounter a fellow Eagle Scout in the wild. I suppose we will disagree, although I’ll point out the biggest fact that tips my opinion from ‘inadvisable’ to ‘negligent’ is the fact he is one of our fellow Eagle Scouts who is undoubtedly equipped with the faculties and knowledge to avoid such inadvisable decisions.

  55. Jon P said


    blah blah blah

  56. Raven said

    In BC we have a big problem with skiers you knowingly climb over clearly marked boundaries and then have to be rescued. Such people should be expected to pay for their rescue and possibly pay some punative penalities. What people forget is the rescuers who go into dangerous mountain territory put themselves at risk of life and limb.

    We have a recent example where a woman died of exposure and her relatives are now suing the the volunteer organzations who did not go looking for her fast enough. The search and resue volunteers have, quite understandbly, refused to launch any more rescues until the government indemnifies them.

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