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Arnie Alpert: Will NH Privatize Youth Corrections?

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

Devil is in the Details of Budget Proposal

Another version of this was published in the Concord Monitor.

The budget proposal now under consideration in the House Finance Committee calls for a $7 million cut in the budget of the Sununu Youth Services Center, the state’s residential detention center for juvenile offenders. It also mandates “the option for the Department to enter into contracts to operate the facility.” The outsourcing provision would be included in HB 2, the budget “trailer bill.”

We’ve been around this block before.

In 2011, the budget trailer bill, HB 2, mandated creation of “a committee to develop a plan for privatizing the department of corrections,” and specified that “on or before September 1, 2011, the commissioner of administrative services shall issue a request for proposals by vendors for provision of correctional services or any other services provided by the department of corrections.”

That line, buried in what became Chaptered Law 0224 when it passed on June 22, 2011 and became law without the signature of Governor John Lynch eight days later, set in motion a costly two-year investigation into the possibility of outsourcing the state’s prisons to a for-profit firm.

First, staff at the Departments of Corrections and Administrative Services spent five months preparing three lengthy “Requests for Proposals” to solicit interest from private firms.

The responses from four companies, which arrived between late January and early March. There was so much paper in the bid documents — said to be so bulky they filled a room at the State House Annex – that the State needed an outside consultant. It took four more months, and an appropriation of $177,000, for the state to hire MGT of America to analyze the proposals.

It took nine months for MGT to compete its report. 

Among its findings were that the “annual compensation for security staff” in the bidders’ business plans “was one-half the current compensation currently paid to similar positions in the state.”

High Turnover, Low Safety

“The state should be concerned that this significantly lower wage may make it difficult to maintain a trained and experience staff,” MGT said. “This could result in high turnover and ultimately impact and safety and security of the correctional facilities.” In other words, the way to make a correctional facility profitable is to lower the wages and benefits paid to workers. That dooms the facilities to dependence on workers who hope to leave and find a better job, not the kind of people we want to manage adult or juvenile corrections.

Based on the consultant’s report, the State “determined that it was in the best interest of the State to cancel the solicitation process,” according to a report released in April 2013, nearly two years after the process started.

“The decision to cancel, after having invested so much time and consideration, was not made lightly,” the Departments of Corrections and Administration said.

With that in mind, we should not go lightly into a new privatization process, this time for youth corrections.

Evidence from around the country has shown that for-profit companies are ill equipped to handle the responsibility of incarceration, whether the prisoners are juveniles or adults. Their facilities tend to be under-staffed, less secure, and don’t even save money for taxpayers.

Riots and Abuse in Florida

Just last week a riot broke out at the Les Peters Academy, a juvenile correctional facility near Tampa, Florida. It’s the third time violence has broken out at one of G4S Corporation’s juvenile facilities, and that’s just in the Tampa area. The State of Florida is investigating “whether all policies and procedures were followed.”

Last summer Florida cancelled a contract with another for-profit operator of youth detention facilities, Youth Services International, after evidence of excessive or unnecessary use of force. The company is barred for a year from bidding on new contracts, but it still runs nine other Florida facilities.

A lengthy report by Chris Kirkham for Huffington Post says “those held at YSI facilities across the country have frequently faced beatings, neglect, sexual abuse and unsanitary food over the past two decades.” Not only that, according to Kirkham, Florida’s “sweeping privatization of its juvenile incarceration system has produced some of the worst re-offending rates in the nation.”

Caroline Isaacs of the American Friends Service Committee, who has documented abuses at for-profit facilities in Arizona and nationwide, says “the track record in juvenile facilities is even more horrifying than the usual for adult prisons.”

We’ve been around this block before. Let’s not go there again.

If Private Prisons Have No Chance In NH Right Now, Why Is CCA Lobbying In NH (Arnie Alpert and InZane Times)


Maggie Hassan made it pretty clear during her successful campaign for governor that she has no interest in turning over control of New Hampshire’s prisons to for-profit corporations.  The majority of Executive Councilors elected in November feel the same.  While the State is still formally reviewing proposals from four private companies to build and operate its prisons, the chance that a contract for prison operation would be drawn up in the next two years is about as close to zero as it can get.  So why at least two of the companies (CCA and MTC) bothered to invest in lobbying services to defeat HB 443a bill which would ban private prisons in New Hampshire?

For insight into this and other questions, the companies’ Form 10-Ks, filed annually with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are worth a read.

According to the SEC, “the 10-K offers a detailed picture of a company’s business, the risks it faces, and the operating and financial results for the fiscal year. Company management also discusses its perspective on the business results and what is driving them.”

Unlike the glossy Annual Reports for stockholders, Form 10-K comes without photos and with a more straightforward writing style.  The SEC says, “Laws and regulations prohibit companies from making materially false or misleading statements in their 10-Ks. Likewise, companies are prohibited from omitting material information that is needed to make the disclosure not misleading.”  In other words, they have to tell the truth, including reporting on what the SEC calls “risk factors.”

Efforts to ban private prisons, even in states that don’t have them and aren’t about to get them, are a risk to the business model of private prison companies.

Corrections Corporation of America

The Form 10-K for the Corrections Corporation of America says, “We are the nation’s largest owner of privatized correctional and detention facilities and oneCCA logoof the largest prison operators in the United States behind only the federal government and three states,” but acknowledges,  “As the owner and operator of correctional and detention facilities, we are subject to certain risks and uncertainties associated with, among other things, the corrections and detention industry and pending or threatened litigation in which we are involved.”

Among the risks they face:  “The operation of correctional and detention facilities by private entities has not achieved complete acceptance by either governments or the public.” 

How’s that for understatement? 

In fact, CCA states, “the movement toward privatization of correctional and detention facilities has also encountered resistance from certain groups, such as labor unions and others that believe that correctional and detention facilities should only be operated by governmental agencies.”  

The GEO Group

The GEO Group, the industry’s #2, agrees.  In its Form 10-K, GEO says, “Public resistance to privatization of correctional, detention, mental health and residential GEO Group logofacilities could result in our inability to obtain new contracts or the loss of existing contracts, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.”

“The movement toward privatization of such facilities has encountered resistance from groups, such as labor unions, that believe that correctional, detention, mental health and residential facilities should only be operated by governmental agencies… Increased public resistance to the privatization of correctional, detention, mental health and residential facilities in any of the markets in which we operate, as a result of these or other factors, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations,” GEO adds.  

Immigration reform laws are currently a focus for legislators”

CCA gets pretty specific about the “factors we cannot control” which consitute risks to their business:

“The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Immigration reform laws are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state, and local level. Legislation has also been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.”

This interest in a continued and growing supply of prisoners explains the industry’s interest in immigration reform.  CNN reports, “Big tech firms and private prisons represent two industries vigorously lobbying to influence the scope of legislation aimed at overhauling U.S. immigration policy, a political priority in Washington.”

While CCA’s 10-K sates, “Our policy prohibits us from engaging in lobbying or advocacy efforts that would influence enforcement efforts, parole standards, criminal laws, and sentencing policies,” CNN notes “Corrections Corporation of America, which builds detention facilities to house illegal immigrants, [has] contributed heavily to the campaigns of lawmakers who take tough stances on the issue.”

CNN also reports, “Sen. John McCain has changed his views on immigration over the years. For instance, the Arizona Republican first supported and later opposed a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.  He is also the fourth-highest recipient of campaign donations from Corrections Corporation of America.”  Maybe it’s just a coincidence.  Maybe not.

If corporate persons can be said to have a corporate conscience and a corporate mind, we can say that private prison companies are morally flawed.  But we shouldn’t discredit their brains.  They know how their bread is buttered, and they are acutely aware that we can cut off the butter by changing immigration laws, reducing sentences, and de-criminalizing offenses like possession of marijuana.  We can take away the whole loaf by banning private prisons, as HB 443 proposes to do in New Hampshire. 

HB 443 states that incarceration is an “inherently governmental” function and cannot be outsourced to for-profit companies like CCA, GEO, and the Management & Training Corporation (MTC).  An amendment approved by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee would allow the Commissioner of Corrections to transfer prisoners to privately operated prisons on a temporary basis in the event of an emergency, such as a fire.  With that amendment and a bi-partisan 13 to 5 “ought to pass as amended” recommendation from the committee, the bill is heading for a vote by the full House this week.  Illinois and New York already have similar laws on their books.  Since passage of HB 443 would have an “adverse effect” on their business model, we can expect the private prison companies to step up lobbying efforts in the Senate if the measure clears the House.

GEO makes another interesting point in its 10-K (page 31 if you want to look it up):  “State budgetary constraints may have a material adverse impact on us,” they say.  This is a curious observation given the fact that the private prison companies insist they save money for taxpayers.  Yet, GEO says, “budgetary constraints in states that are not our current customers could prevent those states from outsourcing correctional, detention or community based service opportunities that we otherwise could have pursued.”  In other words, GEO appears to acknowledge that private prisons aren’t less expensive after all. 

There’s plenty of other data in these reports.  There are lists of their prison facilities.  CCA reports that only 785 of its 17,000 employees are unionized, while GEO says 21% of its workforce is covered by collective bargaining agreements.   Both companies see union organizing as a risk.  Both companies provide extensive details about their creation of Real Estate Investment Trusts.  Enjoy your reading, with awareness that if you are working for immigration reform, reduced incarceration, and the shut-down of the private prison industry, someone in GEO’s and CCA’s corporate offices sees you as an element of their risk profile.

If anyone has the Form 10-K for the Management & Training Corporation, please pass it along. 

Posted at InZane Times.

American Friends Service Committee Show Support For Labor In 2013 Legislative Agenda

Over the last two years New Hampshire endured one of the worst legislative sessions in history.  At the hands of (former) Speaker O’Brien every progressive organization came under attack. He and his legislative cohorts attacked, women, labor, the elderly, and the impoverished.

Throughout the two year session the American Friends Service Committee was there fighting back in every way they could.  They teamed up with labor and other community activism groups to protest O’Brien’s actions.

While this session will undoubtedly be a complete 180 from the previous session this does not mean there is not work to be done.

AFSC Logo via http://bit.ly/SUVtKY

Today the AFSC released their Legislative Agenda. Some of the items on the agenda include: Repealing the Death Penalty, Strengthening Tenants’ Rights, Promoting Affordable Housing, Supporting Prison/Sentencing Reform, and Preserving Marriage Equality.  Many of these are expected from the traditional Quaker organization.

Once again AFCE and Organized Labor will be walking hand in hand on some very important issues.   The local unions have yet to say what their most important state legislative issues will be, however with the Democrats in control of the house Right To Work for less will not be one of them.

Some of the common legislative goals.

  • Raising the Minimum Wage
  • A Fairer Tax System
  • Stopping Prison Privatization
  • Protecting the Most Vulnerable (e.g. Medicaid expansion, human service budgets, predatory lending)
  • Protecting Human and Civil Rights (including Collective Bargaining, Voting Rights)

All of these issues have been pushed by labor for many years.   You may remember that the NH AFL-CIO was one of the loudest voices when it came to passing a minimum wage law for New Hampshire.

The NH Labor News also publishes important updated from Arnie Alpert of the AFSC.  I look forward to working with Arnie and the entire coalition at AFSC.

Prison Consultant gets Contract Extension

February 28 is New Deadline
Cross posted from InzaneTimes 

New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted today to extend the contract of a private consultant that has been evaluating proposals from four firms interested in for-profit operation of the state’s prison system.  The consultant, MGT of America, now has until February 28, 2013, to complete its work.

The original contract, approved by the Council in July, called for the firm to turn in its report by October 5 and to be available until the end of that month to explain its findings.  When that date arrived, the company was given an extra ten days.  When October 15 arrived, the Department of Administrative Services said completion of 12-5-12 003the report would be delayed until mid-November.  When mid-November arrived, Administrative Services said the report would be done in mid-December.

MGT will not get additional payment beyond the $171,000 of the original contract.

The main impact of delay is that MGT, Administrative Services, and the Department of Corrections will be reporting at the end of February to a new Governor and a changed Executive Council.

Bob Sanders of New Hampshire Business Review reported this morning:

The state received the four bids last spring after issuing a relatively vague request for proposal last spring to build and perhaps run a prison to handle all of the state’s inmates. Thus far, no other state has turned its entire prison population over to a private company.

That RFP was the result of even vaguer legislation – never debated by lawmakers but instead tucked into a large budget bill — that appeared to be more interested in looking at shipping inmates out of state to private facilities elsewhere. However, the wording morphed into an RFP for a private prison company to set up a facility so large that it would have the capacity to import prisoners in from other states, an idea favored by outgoing Gov. John Lynch.

Asked by outgoing Councilor Dan St. Hilaire if it is still worth it to finish this project, Commissioner Linda Hodgdon of Administrative Services told the Governor and Council the report would put a “whole comprehensive report in front of you” for consideration as they look into whether and how to replace the women’s prison in Goffstown and the men’s prison in Concord.

When retiring Councilor Ray Wieczorek said the information would help the new Governor and Council decide whether to pursue privatization, Governor Lynch said there are many forms of privatization.   “We need a new women’s prison and at some point we’re going to need a new prison in Concord,” he said.

12-5-12 008 Lynch has been promoting an approach in which the state would contract with a private firm to finance, build, and own a major prison that would then be leased to the state.  The ostensible advantage is that the state would not have to worry about financing a major construction project.  The political advantage would be that the expensive enterprise would be handled as a contract by the Governor and Council, thereby evading the Legislature’s always thrifty capital budget process.  But once the contract is signed, the Legislature would have little choice but to include payments in the biennial state budget.

Such an approach would also give a for-profit prison company a position from which it could make the case for full-scale privatization.

When Chris Sununu, the Council’s most vocal privatization supporter, asked why the process had been delayed, Hodgdon said the analysis was “more complicated than any of us thought.”

Each of the four firms responded to a complex Request for Proposals that asked for details on plans to build and operate a men’s prison and a prison that would house both men and women.   Each proposal presumably also includes the build/lease option for both types of facilities.  That means there are 16 proposals to analyze, not four, and that they all need to be compared to status quo arrangements and to construction and operation of new facilities fully in the hands of the state.

Privatization opponents hope to talk soon with newly elected Councilors.

Today was also Organization Day for the newly elected Legislature.  The House bears little resemblance to the pro-privatization gang that ran the joint for the previous two years.   Legislation to prohibit privatization may meet a warm reception.

Another thing that went wrong in the Bush Economy

Watch this employer-recruitment video produced back in 2004 by the National Corrections Industry Association in partnership with the US Department of Justice:

Yep, if you’re a business, that’s certainly one way to “control labor costs”.  You don’t have to pay health benefits; you don’t have to pay overtime; you don’t even have to pay minimum wage.

If you’ve been watching the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) closely, this probably isn’t a big surprise.  ALEC has been pushing “prison industry enhancement” (PIE) laws at the state level for about 20 years.   Read “The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor” in The Nation here.

Industry spokesmen describe the program as a “win-win” – but that’s from their perspective.

“I asked an NCIA spokesperson how private companies can get away with what could reasonably be described as forced labor. He explained that the PIE program classifies certain work functions as a ‘service’ rather than an actual ‘job’, and therefore is not subject to [restrictions in a 1979 federal law]. Conveniently, then, the backbreaking work of picking crops in the blistering sun counts as a ‘service’, so prisoners can be paid even less than the immigrants who have traditionally performed this work.”

(Yes, of course there’s a Wal-Mart connection.  Read about it in the British newspaper The Guardian, here.)

Here’s how the prison labor system works in Arizona: 

  1. State law requires all able-bodied prisoners to work.
  2. “Arizona statute requires that all inmates that are making $2 per hour will have deductions of 30% to offset the cost of their incarceration. In addition, thirty percent of the prisoner’s wages will be deducted for court ordered restitution.”  (Are you doing the math here?  Sounds like the inmates actually receive 80 cents an hour for their work.)
  3. Nevermind the recession, the prison labor business is growing.  The number of inmate hours worked during FY12 was up 8.5% over FY11.  Room and board “contributions” were up by 9.8%.  Sales were up.  Profits were up.  Arizona Correctional Industries added new products and new customers, and “are currently working on finalizing contracts that will help grow our telemarketing and service business.”  (ACI helpfully explainsHow we do it: We provide a positive learning experience for all of our workers.  We balance our home and business life.  We continually strive to improve our quality focusing on Lean Continuous improvement.  We are passionately involved in making the customer happy.”)
  4. Arizona is now leading the nation in efforts to crack down on those same immigrants who used to pick crops.  Read National Public Radio’s “Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law” here.

Think about that employer-recruitment video that was funded by the Bush Administration in 2004:

“I have a workforce that doesn’t have car problems, or baby sitter problems et cetera.  They’re always here, and they’re always willing to come to work.”

“The situation here allows us to be able to control costs far more than we could in the past.”

“Partnerships between correctional industries and private business are a rapidly growing segment of a multi-billion dollar industry in America.”

“Bring us your business challenge.  Chances are, there’s a nearby correctional facility that can supply dependable labor, enhance your competitiveness, and increase your profitability.”

Now, think about the growth in the non-violent inmate population.

  • As of 2008, non-violent offenders made up over 60 percent of the prison and jail population.
  • If incarceration rates had tracked violent crime rates, the incarceration rate would have fallen to less than one third of the actual 2008 level.

Don’t you think something went terribly, terribly wrong?

Related Article

New Hampshire is considering privatizing the NH correctional facilities. We cannot let that happen. 

Statewide Watch Group Shines Light On Prison Privatization

Cross-posted from SEA / SEIU 1984 Blog

Image from NH Prison Watch .Org

The issue of privatizing New Hampshire prisons will be the topic of a series of panel discussions and documentary screenings between now and the end of the month.

The 45-minute film, “Billions Behind Bars,” explores the for-profit industry that is rapidly growing across the U.S – generating incredible revenue for shareholders and CEO’s from the incarceration of individuals.  Locally, New Hampshire’s Department of Corrections is currently reviewing proposals from for-profit companies seeking to build and operate its state prisons.

Evidence shows that private prisons do not save money. In fact, they frequently cost states more than publicly operated facilities. They are more dangerous than publicly run prisons, and they raise key moral issues.  Questions to be discussed include whether the state faces an inherent conflict between allowing profit-making prisons to operate and a moral obligation to rehabilitate prisoners.

The events are free and open to the public.

The CNBC documentary “Billions Behind Bars,” will be shown courtesy of NHPrisonWatch, a group of organizations that oppose prison privatization. To learn more visit www.NHPrisonWatch.org.

  • Nov. 14, 7 p.m. at the Congregational Church in Exeter, 21 Front St., Exeter.
  • Nov. 19, 5:30 p.m. at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton.
  • Nov. 26, 7 p.m. at Keene State College, the Mabel Brown Room, Young Student Center, 229 Main St. Keene.
  • Nov. 27, 6 p.m. at the Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St., Concord.

NHLN Labor and Election Coverage for 9/9/12: SUPER PACs Go After State Reps Who Oppose RTW in NH House, Guinta and Porter Debate on 9/17, Private Prison Bad For NH, VT Sen Sanders Speaks in NH, NH GOV News, Chicago Teachers on The Verge of Strike,

Speaker say private prison may not fit NH | New Hampshire NEWS02: “Caroline Isaacs, program director at the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson, wrote a report titled “Private Prisons, the Public’s Problem: A Quality Assessment of Arizona’s Private Prisons.” She spoke to a small gathering at the Nashua Unitarian Church last week, one stop during a three-day visit to the state.

“This is a very big decision in New Hampshire,’’ Isaacs told the group. “The biggest thing (in Arizona) was the promise to save money with private prisons. However, this has not proven to be the case in Arizona. We found we were losing money on our private contracts and paying more to those operators than we would to hold (inmates) in a state equivalent unit.””

Sanders “confronts” critics of Social Security at St. Anselm’s College: ““The American people should not be fooled by the misinformation that will be spread at these ‘grassroots’ gatherings backed by some of the most powerful Wall Street, insurance, and corporate CEOs in the country,” Sanders said. “The goal of these ‘town meetings’ is to convince the people of New Hampshire and the rest of America that the only effective way to address the deficit crisis is to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. Don’t believe it!””

Garry Rayno’s State House Dome: A smorgasbord for NH voters | New Hampshire NEWS0604: “READY FOR TUESDAY: Gardner says he does not expect the state’s new photo identification law to creat any problems during Tuesday’s primary. The law requires voters to show photo identification or fill out a challenged-voter affidavit to vote.

During Tuesday’s primary, voters will be asked for a photo ID, but they can still vote even if they don’t produce one.

Voters will, however, need a photo ID in the November general election or they will have to fill out the affidavit.

Gardner said his office held 10 regional meetings attended by about 2,000 election officials, and Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan has held an additional six or so meetings.”

Chicago Teachers May Strike, Teach Political Lesson | New Hampshire Public Radio: “Twenty-five thousand Chicago teachers are planning to walk off the job Monday if they don’t have a contract by midnight Sunday. As the Democrats look to unions to help them get out the vote, a strike by Chicago teachers might just put a crimp in those plans.

On Friday during rush hour, a handful of parents and students stood on a bridge over the Eisenhower Expressway, holding signs that read, “Honk if you support teachers.” Among them is Rhoda Gutierrez, who has two children in a Chicago public elementary school.”

Guinta accepts Manchester Chamber Debate, so Shea-Porter accepts BIA Debate

Today, Naomi Andrews, Campaign Manager for Carol Shea-Porter, Candidate for Congress in the First Congressional District, released the following statement about the proposed NH Business & Industry Association (BIA) Debate with Congressman Frank Guinta.

“Congressman Guinta refuses to debate in front of small business owners at the local Chambers of Commerce anywhere near the seacoast, home to thousands of business owners, but since Frank Guinta finally just decided 48 hours ago to accept the debate offer that was sent June 22 from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Carol Shea-Porter accepts the BIA debate offer, with gratitude to BIA for helping to highlight Guinta’s refusal, and we hope they will now urge Congressman Guinta to debate in front of business members on the seacoast.”

Shea-Porter accepts invite to Sept. 17 candidates forum | New Hampshire NEWS06: “Former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has accepted an invitation from the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association to participate in a Sept. 17 candidates forum at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

The association is sponsoring the forum with the New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire Public Radio and New Hampshire Public Television. The Institute of Politics is at Saint Anselm College.”

The Republican Liberty Caucus is going after current state reps who opposed Right To Work legislation this term as being anti-liberty.

Garry Rayno’s State House Dome: A smorgasbord for NH voters | New Hampshire NEWS0604: “Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter, who is exploring a run for House speaker to unseat Speaker William O’Brien, called the group “domestic terrorists” who want to beat all the Republicans they don’t agree with.

“Republican groups calling themselves Republican this or Republican that are going to bring down the Republican Party,” Quandt said. “People are walking away from it.”

While the Liberty Caucus is targeting the group, the Citizens for a Better New Hampshire, another PAC, will spend $33,000 helping the six targeted Republicans along with 17 other Republicans with direct mail pieces.

The 23 Republican House members supported by the group all voted against the right-to-work legislation pushed by O’Brien and others.”

This state election has been on the back burner – NashuaTelegraph.com: “DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY

Maggie Hassan: 47 percent.

Jackie Cilley: 44 percent.

Bill Kennedy: 9 percent.

Hassan came into this race with the perfect Lynch predigree to win this one going away.

She’d quickly risen up the ladder in the Democratic majority in the state Senate, carried plenty of water for Lynch’s cautious agenda and had already proved herself to be a capable fundraiser.

But Hassan ran into a pit bull opponent in Cilley, who parlayed organized labor dissatisfaction with Hassan over retirement reform into key endorsements from powerful public employee labor unions.”

Head or heart? The Dems’ choice for governor | New Hampshire OPINION01: “In choosing a nominee for governor, New Hampshire Democrats must decide whether to go with their heads or their hearts. If it is their heads, Maggie Hassan will win the nomination. If their hearts, Jackie Cilley.

Both Hassan and Cilley are liberals who want a larger, more active state government. Both despise the Tea Party, which they delight in denouncing, and both talk passionately about undoing what they view as the last two years of radical spending cuts perpetrated by extremist Republicans in the Legislature. And both support same-sex marriage and oppose the death penalty.”

Campaign 2012: Cilley, Hassan clashing | Concord Monitor: “The Democratic primary race for governor has focused on the pledge against a sales or income tax because it clearly divides the candidates. Maggie Hassan took it while Jackie Cilley refused to and then ran a political ad calling pledge-takers zombies.

But their voting records in the state Senate, where Hassan served six years and Cilley four, offer some interesting contrasts too. They differed on capping high-interest loans, a smoking ban in restaurants, a self-defense bill and penalties for employers who violate labor laws.”

NH House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli new president of national legislative group: “New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli is the new president of a national legislative group.

Norelli became president of the National Conference of State Legislatures last month. She succeeds Kansas Senate President Stephen Morris, a Republican.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the nation’s nearly 7,400 state lawmakers. Leadership alternates between the parties each year.

Norelli, who’s from Portsmouth, said it’s important to have a bipartisan group like NCSL because the political tone in the country has become divisive.

Norelli is serving her eighth term in the House. She served two terms as speaker — the only Democrat in nearly 100 years and only the second woman to hold the post.”

Letters: Mitt Romney Distorts the Facts – Nashua, NH Patch: “Before the ACA, the government overpaid private insurance companies that participated in Medicare Advantage, and these overpayments went to profit, not care. Many of these companies pay their CEOs obscenely high salaries, and offer millions more as “golden parachutes” when executives are shown the door. This sounds like corporate welfare to me, and it is one level of waste I’m glad has been eliminated by the ACA.

Mitt Romney distorts the facts when he says that the ACA cuts $700 billion from Medicare. He leaves out one important detail: The cuts come from corporate profits, not from our benefits and care. Medicare Advantage is actually working better since the ACA was passed. Premiums are 16 percent lower and enrollment has increased by 17 percent. Benefits have not been curtailed.”

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Caroline Isaac, AFSC's office in Tucson Arizona, program director (copyrighted by AFSC)

The actual cost and performance of privately run prisons is the theme of next week’s New Hampshire speaking tour featuring Caroline Isaacs, who has conducted original research and written extensively about for-profit prisons in Arizona.

From September 4 through 6, Isaacs will speak at public events in Concord, Keene, Nashua, and Lancaster.

The New Hampshire Departments of Corrections and Administrative Services, with help from a private consultant, are currently evaluating proposals from four private companies to build and operate New Hampshire’s prisons.   Although the contents of the bids are still confidential, the names of the bidders and some details of their proposals have become public.  Three of the four bidders — Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation — run prisons in Arizona.  The fourth, LaSalle, has also proposed to operate prisons there.

As Program Director in the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Arizona office in Tucson, Isaacs researched and wrote “Private Prisons, the Public’s Problem: a Quality Assessment of Arizona’s Private Prisons,” released in February 2012.  With detailed information about the performance of CCA, GEO, and MTC in that state, Isaacs’ report revealed “widespread and persistent problems in private facilities around safety, lack of accountability, and cost.”

“The record these corporations have created is the best way to predict what would happen if any of them gained control of prisons here,” said Arnie Alpert, the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program Coordinator.

MGT of America, the consulting firm helping the state departments review the private prison bids, is expected to complete its report by October 5.  Any contract with a private prison company would have to be approved by the governor and the Executive Council.

Isaacs’ speaking tour, sponsored by the New Hampshire office of the AFSC, will visit regions of the state that CCA is considering as potential prison sites.

At this time, the speaking tour includes:

Tuesday, September 4

Noon – CONCORD – UNH Law School, Doug Wood Board Room, 2 White Street, sponsored by UNH Law School Social Justice Institute.

7 pm – KEENE – Mountain View Room, Keene State College Student Center, sponsored by KSC Criminal Justice Department.

Wednesday, September 5

7 pm – NASHUA – Nashua Unitarian Church, 58 Lowell St., sponsored by Nashua Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee.

Thursday, September 6

9 am – CONCORD – Tad’s Place Auditorium, Heritage Heights, 149 East Side Drive, sponsored by NH League of Women Voters.

6 pm – LANCASTER – Lancaster Town Hall Auditorium, 25 Main Street, sponsored by NH State Employees Association.

All events are free and open to the public.

Additional details are posted in the events listing at www.afsc.org/newhampshire.

Isaacs will also be a guest on “The Attitude” with Arnie Arnesen on WNHN Radio at 11 am on Tuesday, September 4.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who believe in social justice, peace, humanitarian service, and nonviolence.  Its New Hampshire Program, based in Concord, conducts public education and advocacy efforts on many issues, including prison privatization.

Click here for a short description of Caroline Isaacs.

Click here to read the full contents of or an executive summary of Private Prisons, the Public’s Problem: a quality assessment of Arizona’s private prisons.

Click here to download a photo of Caroline Isaacs.

Click here for a commentary by Arnie Alpert about the New Hampshire prison privatization debate.

NH Labor News 8/22/12: Prison Privatization Update, Voter ID, Medicare, RTW for Less, and Minimum Wage

Pension Privatization Update: House Committee Scopes Out Financial Services Firms | StateImpact New Hampshire: “Today, a legislative committee investigating pension privatization issued a request for information from companies that manage retirement funds.

After pension reform legislation failed to pass last term, House Speaker O’Brien requested that a committee convene over the summer to craft new legislation for next term. The committee will likely propose to move all new public employees to private, defined contribution plans — like a 401(k).”

Combat voter ID law with education | Concord Monitor: “Jack Saunders has the right idea. Saunders, who lives in Holderness, is the author of a letter to the editor published in the Sunday Monitor. He suggested that one good way to combat the cynical intent behind New Hampshire’s new voter ID law is to educate people about it so they’re not surprised or frustrated on Election Day.”

Feds still reviewing N.H. Medicaid care management plan – Fosters: “Federal health care regulators are still evaluating New Hampshire’s proposal to implement a new care management system for Medicaid beneficiaries.

Launching the new system will require a waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).”

Success of Indiana’s right-to-work law disputed » Evansville Courier & Press: “Officials at 20 companies have said Indiana’s passage of a right-to-work law earlier this year was a factor in their decisions to bring more jobs to the state, according to Daniel Hasler, who leads the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

However, Nancy Guyott, a union leader and the state’s biggest right-to-work opponent, questioned the numbers.

The conflict occurred Monday after Hasler presented the information to the General Assembly’s Interim Study Committee on Economic Development. Hasler said companies have told the agency that right to work “does matter.””

» STUDY: States with Higher Minimum Wage Have Had Less Employment Loss During the Great Recession: “Because attempts to increase the minimum wage are being met head on by the GOP talking point that doing so would cause employers to cut jobs and hours, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center looked at two decades of data in their recent report, The Minimum Wage and Job Creation.

The study found that minimum wage increases have not had a negative effect on employment in New England.

In Massachusetts alone, the minimum wage has increased six times since 1995. During this period, growth in industries with concentrations of high minimum wage earners has been higher than total employment.”

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NH Labor News 8/8/12: We Must Invest More In Infrastructure, North Country Investment In NH Future, and more

Dollars lacking for repairs of NH bridges | New Hampshire NEWS07: “According to LePatner, in China 9 percent of their G.D.P. is spend on infrastructure, in Europe 5 percent is spent on infrastructure. “In the United States we’re slightly above 2 percent and we’re the United States. That’s a sorry state of affairs and nothing good comes of it.”

Too little is being spent repairing America’s bridges, he said.

“We just can’t afford to keep waiting and passing the buck down the line because along the way we’re going to have more tragedies,” LePatner said. “And New Hampshire is no different than any other state. We’re all in this together. That’s what the map shows. What are we waiting for?””

Rebecca Blank and Tom Vilsack: Federal investment is helping the North Country economy | New Hampshire OPINION02: “And, of course, we know that small investments can go a long way, especially in rural towns and communities — such as those in the North Country. The fact is, we can’t wait to take low-cost actions that have the potential to make a big impact. In other words, we must do everything possible — right now — to make sure that everyone who wants a job can find a job, no matter where they live.

Private Prisons Cost Arizona $3.5 Million More Per Year Than State-Run Prisons | ThinkProgress: “Private prisons, touted as a cost-efficient alternative to state-run penitentiaries, are not living up to their promises in at least one state. A new study of Arizona’s private prisons finds that the state is actually losing money — $3.5 million a year — by turning their inmates over to for-profit corporations.
According to the Tucson Citizen’s analysis of Arizona’s three oldest private prison contracts, the rate to hold one prisoner for one night has increased 13.9% since the contracts were awarded. Compared to the cost of state-run prisons, Arizona overpaid for its private prison beds by $10 million between 2008 and 2010.”

The President, both of us, and everyone in the Obama Administration know that when local communities are getting stronger, our entire nation is getting stronger.

Our commitment is that we will continue to work with Congress to take smart, targeted steps that speed up America’s economic growth. ”

Be sure to check out Arnie Alpert’s Post on Protesting the Private Prisons at the NH Executive Council Meeting this morning.

MIAMI: DCF reviews deaths at GEO-run state hospital – Florida Wires – MiamiHerald.com: “State officials requested a review of the facility “in response to significant events in past several months,” including the deaths. The state also reviewed cases of individuals who had been placed into solitary confinement and restraints multiple times and other incidents at the facility, but the report offered few details of those incidents.

The 335-bed facility, located in Broward County, is operated by The GEO Group Inc., a Boca Raton-based firm that is one of the world’s largest private operators of prisons and detention centers. Many of the patients are mentally ill and admitted against their will because they are considered a threat to themselves or others. Some are admitted because they are not competent to stand trial, but don’t need to be in a high-security facility.”

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