Report on private prisons due 4/3

State officials will reportedly release a long-awaited study on private prisons this Wednesday after the Governor and Council meeting. The consulting firm MGT Associates has worked all fall and winter to compare the voluminous bids from four private prison vendors to take over much of the state's corrections system on a for-profit basis. New Hampshire law prohibits releasing that confidential $171,000 report because it would compromise a still-active contract procurement process. But officials plan to publish a study of their own that would protect the privacy of the four corporations and their specific bids. Stay tuned for details and a reaction to the news on April 3. 

Meanwhile, HB 443 to block private prisons in New Hampshire has proceeded to the Senate Finance Committee. We're not sure why the policy committee, Senate Judiciary, was cut out of the vetting process, but we'll try to find out. The bill would let the corrections department outsource prisoners on a short-term basis in case of a fire or emergency at one its institutions. 

The House Capital Budget goes to the full House soon with a $38 million item to build a women's prison for 224 inmates with core facilities to serve a substantially bigger population in the future. The bill won unanimous bipartisan support in committee. 

Policy makers widely expect the proposed site to be near the existing men's prison on North State Street in Concord. No public hearing has been scheduled in the Senate, but supporters of restorative justice should prepare to attend it on fairly short notice. NH Legal Assistance is holding off on discovery in a pending lawsuit against the prison in Goffstown on the likelihood lawmakers will pay for a badly needed new prison for women. None of the four vendors offered to build a separate women's prison. 

The petition you received last week against the GEO prison company, a New Hampshire bidder, has gained 60 national signatory organizations. GEO plans to pay $6 million for the privilege of naming a stadium at Florida Atlantic University. Below is a press release on the petition with a link to the actual letter. The letter is also attached. New Hampshire groups supporting it include Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, the Episcopal Prison Concerns Committee, and Families Now Involved. 

Coalition of More Than 60 Groups Calls on Florida Atlantic President, Trustees to Stop Stadium Naming Agreement with Prison Corporation

Faith, Student, and Civil Rights Organizations Cite GEO Group’s “Shameful Record”
April 1, 2013
Contact: Bob Libal,, (512) 971-0487 

Boca Raton, FL - A coalition of more than 60 civil rights, immigrant, student, and faith organizations has sent a letter to Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders and the Board of Trustees calling for the university to rescind its agreement to name the school’s football stadium after for-profit private prison corporation GEO Group. 

“We strongly believe that FAU should not choose to compromise its values by allying itself with a company that has such a shameful record,” the letter reads. The GEO Group, it continues, “has been the subject of numerous lawsuits involving injury or death of incarcerated and detained people, sexual abuse, and security failures. They have failed state audits and been fined by a federal agency for willfully failing to take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of their own employees.” 

“GEO Group is a company with a record marred by human rights abuses, lawsuits, and unnecessary deaths of people in their custody,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, one of the letter’s signatories. “It is outrageous to allow a public university’s stadium to be named after a corporation that profits off of incarceration and detention of immigrants.” 

Students at Florida Atlantic University have formed a “Stop Owlcatraz” coalition to protest the naming rights deal. Last week the University’s Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly to formally oppose giving stadium naming rights to GEO Group. 

Carl Takei, staff attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project, said, “The students and faculty of FAU have made clear that they want nothing to do with GEO’s prison profiteering and record of abuse and neglect. President Saunders and the Board need to hit the brakes on this deal and face the facts about GEO.”

In addition to the ACLU and Grassroots Leadership, signatories to the letter include AFSCME, Detention Watch Network,, Dream Defenders, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Fellowship on Reconciliation, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Lawyers Guild, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, United States Student Association, and United We Dream. The full letter and list of state and national signatories can be seen here.