If outside bidders make a high enough offer, New Hampshire may be the first state with the dubious distinction of privatizing its entire male prison population.
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections recently put out a request for proposals that would contract out state penitentiaries to an outside contractor, and at least four companies have responded with their plans to build a new prison for all of the state’s male prisoners:
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has put out a request for proposal that would essentially hand over the keys to a future penitentiary to an outside contractor for 20 years. Though the RFP still has to clear several hurdles, four companies have responded with plans to build, and probably run, a new prison for all of New Hampshire’s male (and perhaps female) inmates.
Two of the firms interested are publicly traded — Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., with combined annual revenues of over $3 billion.
Although corporate-run prison systems are often touted as an effective way to cut costs, prison privatization — which has negative effects on prisoners and their families and impedes criminal justice reform as a whole — doesn’t actually end up saving taxpayers money. And, as ThinkProgress has reported, when companies profit by incarcerating people, they often spend millions on lobbying legislatures to put more people in jail simply to increase their profits.
Florida also recently proposed to expand its private prisons, a measure that was voted down in the state senate earlier this year. Unless New Hampshire also decides against their new for-profit prison plan, the state may be about to go down on the wrong side of history.