State drops bid to privatize this year after report on for-profit operators’ bids released

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE (April 4, 2013) – After the long-delayed release of an analysis of proposals by for-profit prison companies prompted the state of New Hampshire to cancel the privatization process, a coalition of organizations opposing prison privatization has called for passage of a new law prohibiting prison privatization altogether.

The bill, HB 443, readily passed the NH House of Representatives and will next be considered by the state’s Senate. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the NH PrisonWatch coalition hope the state’s action prompts swift passage in the Senate. 

Yesterday, the state released a long awaited report from an out-of-state consultant who reviewed proposals for for-profit prison expansion and capacity that the state received last year. MGT of America of Tallahassee, Fla., said that not one of the four companies that wanted the job showed they could meet court-ordered requirements for inmate care.

The private prison companies also proposed wages and benefits that are half what security staff at the prisons earn now. The state employees union and AFSC had predicted private companies would cut services to inmates and reduce employee wages and benefits, based on extensive research on the issue in Arizona and other states’ experiences with for-profit prisons.

“The state spent considerable resources on this,” said Arnie Alpert, AFSC’s New Hampshire program coordinator. “We should not waste state dollars on considering this option anymore. This report takes privatization off the table. Now it’s time to close the door to privatization and move on to development of sensible approaches to crime and corrections.”

HB 443 would block the state from privatizing prison operations. It would also prevent the state from transferring state prisoners to privately run prisons except under temporary emergency circumstances. The measure comes before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, April 9. 

NH PrisonWatch, the coalition of organizations opposed to prison privatization, includes the NH League of Women Voters, NH AFSC, Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, the NH State Employees’ Association, the NH Civil Liberties Union, and the NH Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, among others.