HINSDALE, N.H. -- The town is one of three being eyed as the potential site of a prison if the state turns the industry over to any of four national corporations that have submitted bids for private ownership of correctional facilities.
Bids from Corrections Corporation of America, MTC Corrections, GEO Group Inc., and the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center are currently under review by committees within the New Hampshire Legislature, but Hinsdale Town Administrator Jill Collins said CCA is the only one that has met with town officials about the possibility of opening a private facility.
She said reviews will not be completed until at least the end of the summer, though it could be later than that because it is an election year. All bids were submitted in early March, according to Rudy Ogden of the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services.
Rep. Bill Butynski, a Democrat who represents Hinsdale, Chesterfield and Winchester at the Statehouse, said that in order for Hinsdale to host a facility the state would first have to accept the bid from CCA, which in turn must choose the town over the two other communities it is mulling, which CCA refused to identify. Butynski said he wouldn’t be surprised if the decision on the bids didn’t come until December or January.
Brad Wiggins, CCA’s senior director for site acquisition, gave a PowerPoint presentation along with colleagues Ben Shuster and David Collins to the
It would hold 1,500 to 2,000 inmates and cost $100 to $120 million to build, with a possible expansion in the future.
Wiggins also attended a Hinsdale Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, April 17, to answer questions about the corporation and explain what it does. Planning Board Chairman Bill Nebelski said Wiggins described at the informal meeting how CCA operates its facilities and how they are developed.
Nebelski said that construction of a prison in his town would take two years to complete and create 300 to 350 construction jobs. The facility itself would likely employ 300 people, he said.
He said there are some issues -- like how the building would get its water supply and how it would deal with its sewage -- that would need to be dealt with before construction begins.
At the Board of Selectmen meeting, CCA representatives said the corporation hopes to hook up the facility to the town’s water and sewer system and sign a development agreement to pay the additional costs for the town’s system to be able to handle CCA’s needs.
CCA spokesman Steve Owen told the Reformer the corporation founded the private prison industry in 1983 and now operates 67 public-private partnership prisons in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Partnership prisons, as they are called, are paid by governments to house prisoners. Owen said CCA works with the federal government as well as those at the state and local levels.
Owen said more than half the states in the country allow for prison privatization.
Butynski said a private prison facility would bring a lot of jobs to the town and greatly increase its tax revenues and housing values. He said, however, he has not formed an opinion on the issue and is still waiting to hear more from his constituents, though he has already heard from both sides of the issue -- those that don’t want a private facility in their town and those that do.
Jeff Lyons, public information officer of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, said everything started when the state Legislature asked his department to seek bids for the privatization of the prison systems as a way of offsetting corrections costs. He said the four private companies are located in different parts of the United States.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.