"Live Free" ...or Die in a For-Profit Prison

New Hampshire Considers Prison Privatization

New Hampshire was the first of the thirteen colonies to declare its independence.  The nation’s first free public library was established in Peterborough. Revolutionary hero General John Stark coined the phrase that is still associated with New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die.” New Hampshire, where we experience the first primary in the nation every four years, is quintessentially a New England state, rich and a little quirky in manner and politics and history.  And it is, these days, possibly a player in the private prison industry’s massive attempt to privatize our nation’s prisons and departments of corrections.

A House and Senate committee to develop a plan to privatize the Department of Corrections in The Live Free or Die State, New Hampshire, will report its findings and recommendations to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the house clerk, the senate clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before May 1, 2012.

Earlier this year the Department of Corrections issued RFP’s (due last month) for facilities accommodating prisoners, replacing both Concord’s century old State Prison for Men and Goffstown’s women’s prison.  The RFP was lauded by those close to private prison interests as it contained no specifics about size or location and could potentially include speculative building for anticipated larger New England needs. Nor did it specify whether the contractor would build the facilities or retrofit existing facilities.

According to Eli Gage, of Correctional News “It’s probably one of the more unique and creative (RFPs) put out for some time. The state has given the ability to leave things (a bidder) is open to do or not do, depending on what they like. Even some in the industry say it’s the best RFP they’ve seen in a while.”

This “model” RFP brought twenty different private prison companies into New Hampshire.  The “big three”, The GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America and The Management Training Group were, of course, among the interested.

As we wait to learn the fate of the proposals to build a male facility and a female facility or a hybrid facility and, as we await what we hope will be an illuminating and truthful legislative privatization report, we think that it is important to take a very close look at the members of that legislature.  I would suggest that folks in New Hampshire examine very carefully the funds that help elect their representatives.  That information is available at the National Institute on Money in State Politics’ website www.followthemoney.org.  And, take a gander at the large number of legislators who are members of The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right wing organization of corporations and conservative foundations who dish up free trips and model legislation to its lawmaker members.

From our friends at ALECexposed:

New Hampshire House of Representatives

Amy Stasia Perkins (R-14), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member

Andrew Renzullo (R-27)

Betsy McKinney (R-3), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member

Beverly T. Rodeschin (R-2) ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member

Carole McGuire (R-8), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Alternate

Dan McGuire (R-8), ALEC Education Task Force

Elaine B. Swinford (R-5), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member

Gary Daniels (R-6), ALEC State Chairman and Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member

J. Gail Barry (R-16), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member

Jennifer Coffey (R-6), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member

John Hikel (R-7), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Alternate

John Reagan (R-1), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member

Jordan Ulery (R-27), ALEC State Chairman and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member

Joseph Thomas (R-19), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member

Ken Weyler (R-8), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member

Kris Edward Roberts (D-3), ALEC Education Task Force

Lawrence B. Perkins, Jr. (R-14), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member

Marilinda J. Garcia (R-4), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Alternate

Mark Warden (R-7)

Mary M. Allen (R-11), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Alternate

Maurice Villeneuve (R-18), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member

Norman L. Major (R-8), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Alternate

Pamela Z. Tucker (R-17), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member

Robert E. Introne (R-3), ALEC Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force Member

Robert L. Theberge (D-4), ALEC International Relations Task Force Member

Stephen Palmer (R-6), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member

Susan Emerson (R-7), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member

Warren J. Groen (R-1)

Will Smith (R-18), ALEC Education Task Force

 

New Hampshire Senate

Sen. Sharon M. Carson (R-14), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member

You can find your representative and their contact information at:http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx

Lets watch our elected officials in New Hampshire very carefully over the next few weeks.  And if any should warrant a special mention in our Wednesday Hall of Shame blog, please email me at redwing@grassrootsleadership.org

I have an idea: New Hampshire has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.  According to the United States Peace Index, which defines peace as “the absence of violence,” and looks at a set of five indicators, including homicide rates, violent crimes, percentage of the population in jail, number of police officers and availability of small arms (per 100,000 people) to rank the states, New Hampshire is the nation’s second most peaceful state.  As it confronts its old and decaying prisons, rather than contracting with a private corporation that will build larger, newer prisons with the potential for speculative regional commerce, the state might look at alternatives to incarceration.  Drug courts.  Halfway houses. Sentencing options. Intensive Supervisory Probation and Parole. Home confinement. Electronic monitoring.  Mental health courts.  Restorative Justice. Restitution.  New Hampshire could become a model for the rest of the nation, radically lowering its incarceration rates and finding creative and workable solutions.