Concord, NH – A letter signed by 36 national and state-level criminal justice, civil liberties, policy, and faith organizations, representing over 14 million individuals, was delivered today to New Hampshire’s five-member Executive Council expressing opposition to the state’s unprecedented efforts to privatize its prison system.
The letter cites numerous concerns with the state’s proposition to turn over the operations of NH’s corrections system to a private prison corporation through a contractual agreement. Some of the concerns include an increased number of New Hampshire’s prison beds, dubious cost savings claims, inefficiency in correctional management, and a negative impact on public safety.
“Research demonstrates that private prisons cost states more to operate than publicly managed facilities,” said Randy Hunneyman, SEA member and Professor at the NH Department of Corrections.
“Across the country each of the companies that have responded to New Hampshire’s Request for Proposals has been cited for serious mismanagement,” added Kymberlie Quong Charles, national organizer with Grassroots Leadership., “The poor training of prison staff, under staffing, and other standard violations has resulted in unsafe environments for the individuals working and living in the prisons, and the public at large.”
The letter also addresses potential pitfalls in the large number of beds that New Hampshire would be adding to its capacity. Beds not filled by those incarcerated by New Hampshire’s Department of Corrections would be filled by prisoners moved across state lines in order to stay at capacity, a practice that criminal justice advocates deem problematic.
Signatories include AFSCME, United Methodist Church GBGCS, SEIU, NAACP New England Area Conference, League of Women Voters of New Hampshire, and International CURE.
Rather than pursue the current privatization proposal, the letter calls on the Executive Council and Legislature to address New Hampshire’s correctional needs through criminal justice policy initiatives that have reduced demand for scarce correctional resources. The letter cites reforms in Michigan, Kansas, New Jersey, and New York that have resulted in a downscaling of state prison populations.