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.