The state of New Hampshire may not only be moving toward privatizing its entire prison system, but it is also partially privatizing the process involved in making the decision.So far, NH has had to deal with the worst bunch of teahadists that we've ever seen. Legislatively we're right up there with Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin as far as bad politics. The only saving grace is that we have a democratic (albeit a bluedog) governor to stop this extreme legislation. But now we're going to be the first to privatize the ENTIRE prison population
If you want a little history, here's what we've had to deal with so far:
No more mandatory lunchbreaks legislation introduced
So yes, we've been hit with a great deal of crap from these heartless monsters, but this has the potential to be a real stage setter for the rest of the country. Wisconsin lead the way in taking away labor rights, Arizona lead the way in anti-immigrant legislation, and now NH will lead the way in privatizing prisons, and if the teahadists get elected again in November, this will mean lobbying by the private prison companies for more "tough on crime" legislation. If they make so much money locking people up, what incentive do they have to let people out?
You've may have heard of this story out of Pennsylvania, it was featured in Capitalism, A Love Story:
Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, sent kids to juvenile detention for crimes such as possession of drug paraphernalia, stealing a jar of nutmeg and posting web page spoofs about an assistant principal (3 months of hard time). Some of those sentenced were as young as 10 years old. A mother of one of those sentenced by judge Caivarella lashed out at him after the guilty verdict. Sandy Fonzo’s son, Edward, was a promising young athlete in high school when at the age of 17 he found himself in front of judge Caivarella for possession of drug paraphernalia. With no prior convictions, the judge sentenced Edward to months in private prisons and a wilderness camp…he missed his entire senior year in high school. Edward never recovered from the experience according to his mother and in June 2010 he took his own life at the age of 23.
So what happened to this judge?
He was found guilty in February of racketeering for taking a $1 million kickback from the builder of for-profit prisons for juveniles.It's not often that justice is served, but the lives that he ruined will never heal. It was more than judge's fault, it was a system that allowed that to happen. When we have a system in place that allows this kind of corruption, we will begin to see more of it.
Among many of the reasons that private prisons are attractive is because of the cost. This is one of the reasons privatizing stuff seems so sexy to lawmakers. A few less lines in the budget that they have to look at, no more public employee pensions. etc. etc. But the reality is different
Despite claims from companies like CCA, the jury seems to be out on whether private prisons end up saving governments money. An audit by the accounting firm MAXIMUS conducted for Arizona compared the cost of public and private corrections facilities in 2007 and found that, on average, private facilities ended up saving the state $5.49 per inmate per day.This is important to note, because rehabilitation works
But more recently, an internal Arizona Department of Corrections report released in February 2010, found that, in 2009, those savings narrowed to around $2.75 per inmate per day, and in certain instances, private facilities were found to cost even more per day than public ones.
"There's nothing definitive saying publics are better or privates are better. There's a lot of propaganda," says Michel Jacobson, director of the Vera Institute of Justice, a non-partisan research organization.
The Urban Institute's John Roman argues that at times private prisons also lack the incentive to help prepare inmates to return to society, leading to a higher rate of recidivism (inmates returning to prison) and a higher overall cost to the prison system.
The 2009 Annual Report of the Office of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (OSATS), formerly the Division of Addiction and Recovery Services, includes return-to-custody data on offenders who paroled in Fiscal Year 2005-06 for a one-year and a two-year period. The return to custody rate after one year for offenders completing both in-prison and community-based treatment in FY 2005-06 was 21.9 percent compared to 39.9 percent for all offenders. The return to custody rate after two years for offenders completing both in-prison and community-based treatment in FY 2005-06 was 35.3 percent compared to 54.2 percent for all offenders.Conclusion:
The private prison system creates more potential for corruption, and costs just as much money as publicly run prisons. If they end up costing the same, there's no reason for their existence, and even if they did save a little bit of money, the social costs far outweigh the benefits. What we need to do is get rid of private prisons completely. Outside of that, we need prison reform (which includes ending the failed "war on drugs") that focuses on treatment instead of dishing out harsh sentences for the sole purpose of looking "tough." Hopefully the citizens of NH will find out about this and urge their politicians to reject prison privatization in any form, and then work toward stopping this trend everywhere.