New Hampshire will not privatize its prisons, at least not in the near future. That’s the decision announced by the state today with the release of a long-awaited analysis of bids submitted by four private firms in response to a 2011 Request for Proposals from the state.
The state’s consultant, MGT of America, found that none of the bids met the requirements spelled out in the RFP. All of them “had deficiencies from an operational standpoint.”
[Click here for the report from MGT of America.]
Specifically, according to a parallel report released by the Departments of Corrections and Administrative Services, “all were non-compliant with meeting the Department of Corrections’ legal obligations.”
“More specifically, the proposals exhibited a lack of understanding of the overarching legal requirements placed upon the DOC relating to the court orders, consent decrees and settlements which, in large part, dictate the administration and operation of their correctional facilities and attendant services to the inmate populations,” the state agencies said.
[Click here for the report from the state agencies.]
The agencies concluded, “The immediate next step, taken in conjunction with the release of this report, is the formal cancellation of the solicitation process. This decision, based upon the detail provided above, is made in the best interests of the State.”
That the private industry leaders were not able to explain how they would actually meet the state’s legal obligations should be seen as evidence that these companies can’t be trusted to operate prisons anywhere.
MGT also reported that the staff compensation levels built into the privatization proposals was “one-half of the current compensation currently paid to similar positions in the state.”
“The state should be concerned that this significantly lower wage may make it difficult to maintain a trained and experienced staff. This could result in high turnover and ultimately impact the safety and security of the correctional facilities,” MGT added.
“In prior MGT studies of private correctional facility operations,” the report elaborated, “we have found private correctional facilities with annual staff turnover rates of 42 percent compared to 13.3 percent for nearby public facilities. High turnover, which can result from non-competitive compensation levels, produces a chronically inexperienced work force with direct implications for the integrity of facility security and safety. Low compensation levels can also make staff recruitment more difficult, resulting in staff vacancies and reliance on overtime, which again has a negative impact upon facility security.”
The state’s report leaves open the possibility that the state would entertain privatization as an option at some point in the future. That would be a huge mistake. Instead, the legislature should pass HB 443, a bill that blocks the state from considering privatization. This measure has already passed the NH House and comes before the Senate Finance Committee next Tuesday.