New Hampshire Rejects Privatization Bids

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire has dropped its bid to build private prisons for state inmates after an evaluation of the four proposed companies posed concerns of security and failure to meet state compliance, the state announced last week.

MGT of America, a Tallahassee-based consulting company, released a report detailing the evaluation of bids from Corrections Corporation of America, The Geo Group, Management and Training Corporation and The Hunt Group.

The state sought proposals on a men’s prison, women’s prison and a “hybrid’ prison to house both men and women.

"It was determined that the private vendors’ proposed prices may be understated, as those prices did not account for all the [specified] requirements," the report states. "This fact therefore made it impossible to conduct an accurate apples-to-apples cost comparison of state versus private operation of correctional facilities."

Consultants questioned whether the proposals fulfilled state mandates in design, construction and operations, according to the study.

A class-action lawsuit filed last year claimed inequity between programs offered at the men’s prisons and the women’s prisons, which stated incarcerated women receive less training and education in the state of New Hampshire. The state sought to remedy any potential inequality, but none of the four private prison proposals included proposals for a women’s prison.

The report also described concerns with high staff turnover rates associated with privatization, which the study said could be as high as 42 percent annually.

“High turnover, which often result from lower compensation levels can impact the skills and stability of the workforce and have a direct impact on the safety and security of facility operations,” according to the study.

The study continues to compare the average compensation level at the Concord State Prison versus the average compensation in the lowest cost proposal. The private prisons would offer annual salaries approximately 50 percent less than those offered to similar positions in New Hampshire, the study reports.

“The state should be concerned that this significantly lower wage may make it difficult to maintain a trained and experienced staff,” according to the study. “This could result in high turnover and ultimately impact the safety and security of the correctional facilities.”

The state released its own report shortly after the release of MGT findings, which summarized the state’s reasoning for bid withdrawal.

“It became apparent that there were significant issues in evaluating compliance with the [specified] criteria,” the report said. “More specifically, the proposals exhibited a lack of understanding of the overarching legal requirements placed upon the Department of Corrections 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.”