Humpday Hall of Shame: A Fox in the Henhouse?

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

Right now New Hampshire is considering privatizing its entire public prison system.  Although this New England state’s prison population is relatively small compared to others’, we are concerned about the precedent that statewide privatization could set, being that no other state in the country has privatized its entire system, and we are worried about what opening this floodgate could mean for the rest of the region.

Privatizing a statewide prison system is a huge and unprecedented endeavor, and to assist in the process of assessing RFP’s from four companies --  Corrections Corporation of America, Management & Training Corp., The Geo Group Inc. and the Hunt Companies -- New Hampshire’s Executive Council elected to contract with MGT of America, Inc. to “look over their shoulder” as they review bids.

What gives us pause is the fact that MGT’s lead manager on the project is a man named George Vose.  Vose has a pretty significant rap sheet in the world of private prisons, and we think his role in this project is a potential conflict of interest.

According to several online profiles, Vose spent a significant portion of his career in high-powered, public sector corrections positions, including as Commissioner of both Massachusetts and Rhode Island Departments of Corrections.  In 2002 Vose left the public sector, taking a position as vice president of operations with CiviGenics, a private prison company that operated youth male correctional facilities until it was purchased by Community Education Centers (CEC).  CEC is a national giant in halfway houses, whose infamous reputation has recently made the New York Times for the contentious debate between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and members of the New Jersey legislature who want to see increased oversight and staffing at CEC’s New Jersey facilities where there have been numerous incidents of escape, violence, and drug use.

Vose stayed with the company in the transition from CiviGenics to CEC as senior vice president of operations, and in 2009 he left the executive post and moved to the board room where he remains today.  In 2011 Vose became a senior associate at MGT on their Criminal Justice and Public Safety team.  Interestingly, Vose’s online profile with MGT documents his professional background in public sector corrections, but says nothing about his tenure with private prison corporations CiviGenics or CEC, or his current membership on CEC’s board.

Vose’s history is yet another example of the many individuals who leave state/public sector positions to enter the private, for-profit sector.  We recently profiled Steven Anfinson, a GEO Care administrator who used to be the superintendant at Kerrville State Hospital -- the very hospital for which GEO Care is seeking a contract with the state of Texas to privatize.

What’s even more worrisome about George Vose’s position is that he wields a considerable amount of power in New Hampshire’s decision-making process.  To be clear, CEC is not a contender for New Hampshire’s privatization contract. However, we wonder if it’s possible for a board member of a private, for-profit, prison corporation to be objective as a consultant on a statewide privatization endeavor that could potentially set a precedent for the private prison industry at large.