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New Hampshire House Rejects Private Prisons

One of the most controversial issues facing states today–Private prisons.  Prisonpath has posted articles discussing the the negative factors surrounding private prisons. Private prisons revolve around the simple principle of profit. More inmates mean more money. Cutting costs means more profit. The many problems of private prisons were exemplified in Ohio at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. The articles show what prison is like if the prison is private. The following article about the New Hampshire House rejecting private prisons discusses also the umbilical cord between immigration and immigrants and private prisons.

New Hampshire House Votes To Prohibit Private Prisons
By Scott Keyes on Mar 22, 2013 at 9:00 am

The New Hampshire House voted today to prohibit private prisons in the Granite State, countering progress the industry has made elsewhere around the country.

The New Hampshire Union Leader has more:

The House on Thursday voted to forbid the executive branch from privatizing the state prison system, saying that to do so would shirk the state’s constitutional responsibility to rehabilitate inmates.

The 197-136 roll call by the Democratic -controlled House sent House Bill 443 to the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim, 13-11 majority and the bill’s fate is uncertain, at best.

The legislation, while prohibiting prison privatization, allows the governor to enter into a temporary contract with a private provider during times of a “corrections emergency” with the approval of the Executive Council.

The move is an abrupt shift in New Hampshire, where just last year the legislature had considered a bill to send its entire male prison population to private prisons.

The problems with private prisons are too numerous to spell out in full, but here are a few highlights.

At its core, the entire private prison industry profits when people are imprisoned, meaning stricter drug and immigration laws produce larger profits. Private prison operators know this, and have spent more than $45 million on lobbying federal and state lawmakers over the past decade, including top Republicans influencing the immigration debate. Indeed, the CEO of one of the largest private prison groups, the Corrections Corporation of America, assured investors on a recent call that there would continue to be “strong demand” for prison cells, even after immigration reform. The industry stands to rake in $5.1 billion detaining immigrants alone.

Though conservatives regularly argue privatizing industries makes them leaner and more cost-effective, the opposite is true for prisons. In Arizona, for example, private prisons cost $3.5 million per year more than state-run prisons. In Florida, the state has started laying people off after privatizing prisoners’ health care. In addition, private prisons are riddled with violations, including emergency procedures and cleanliness.

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2 Responses to New Hampshire House Rejects Private Prisons

  1. PrisonPath March 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    This victory was the result of a two-year fight to block for-profit prisons in New Hampshire. CCJR wrote and found legislative support sponsored House Bill 443 to stop private prisons in the Granite State. The bill passed on March 21, 2013 by a vote of 197-136 on March 21, 2013.

    We worked closely with the League of Women Voters, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, the Civil Liberties Union, the Defense Attorneys Association, the American Friends Service Committee, and the State Employees Association in fighting privatization on several fronts. We thank everyone who gave of their time and resources in this battle.

    Our fledgling alliance met almost weekly for the following year to keep the state from accepting one of the four ensuing bids to privatize the New Hampshire prison system. The coalition became an informal organization called Prison Watch, complete with a savvy website and a public information campaign built around seven showings of the film “Billions Behind Bars,” a scathing documentary on prison profiteering.

    A related bill strongly backed by the same coalition, House Bill 404, would let prisoners earn time off their minimum sentences through vocational, educational or treatment programs. It got retained in House committee for further study this summer, and CCJR will advocate for it.

    Meanwhile the loose coalition has grown to include, from time to time, Families Now Involved, the Episcopal Prison Concerns Committee, the NH Council of Churches, the Sentencing Project, Grassroots Leadership and a dozen other national players fighting private prisons from Florida to Arizona, with much success.

    We also helped muster strong opposition to a bill in 2011 that would have shipped 600 inmates out of state to the lowest bidder to help balance the budget. Forty people from the Families Now Involved support group for inmates showed up at our call and told lawmakers they could never travel to Kentucky or Arizona to stay in touch with loved ones.
    By Dr. Robert Paradise, Ph.D.

  2. PrisonPath March 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Bernadette • The only problem I have with private prisons, is that they may cherry pick! so what happens to the support and help to the rest!

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