Writing in the Concord Monitor, longtime activist Arnie Alpert warns that “a momentous decision is being considered behind closed doors in the Department of Administrative Services” that has “profound implications for public safety, the state budget, job quality and the constitutional obligation to support the rehabilitation of offenders.”
Administrative Services and Department of Corrections staff are reviewing piles of documents from four corporations interested in taking over the state’s prison system and running it for profit. If a contract with one of the private firms emerges in late summer or early fall, only then will policy-makers and citizens get to know the details….
“The private prison experiment in other states has gone poorly,” writes Alpert. He quotes Elaine Rizzo and Margaret Hayes who reviewed the record of prison privatization in terms of the impact on cost, public safety, and correctional policy.
“Of greatest concern is the indisputable fact that private prisons exist to make a profit. It is in their economic interests to reduce costs by maintaining full facilities, reducing staff wages and benefits, reducing institutional expenses associated with safety and sanitation, and reducing critical care services and programming. These cost-saving measures come at the expense of institutional and public safety, and hold the potential for negative publicity and more costly lawsuits.”
“The public deserves a full and open airing of the privatization issue,” insists Alpert, “not a rush job slipped through the Executive Council while the eyes of voters and lawmakers are focused on other matters.”