The New Hampshire House of Representatives on Thursday voted to prohibit privatization of prisons in the state. The measure, HB 443, was approved by a roll call vote of 197-136. The bill now moves on to the Senate for review.
The issue of privatization has been a hot topic for over a year in the state. The attention began when the state issued a request for proposals for private companies to build a men’s prison, a women’s prison and a hybrid facility.
The bids were complex, and led the state to hire a consultant to help with the review. That consulting team was supposed to complete its work in August of 2012. As of now, the consultants have not yet produced any findings and continue to request contract extensions; the latest request was approved by NH’s Governor and Council earlier this week.
NH Rep. Robert Cushing spoke in favor of the ban during floor debate Thursday, highlighting the difference between the state’s constitutional requirement to rehabilitate prisoners and corporation’s requirement to fill its coffers.
“When we take somebody’s liberty away from them, those who are overseeing that bondage should be responsible to the Governor of New Hampshire as opposed to a corporate entity,” Cushing said.
Bill supporters are asking the public to support HB 443 as it moves to the Senate by contacting their state senator and registering their support.