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Private prison developer looking at Lancaster

To present information May 7 to Selectmen, Planning Board at joint session

May 03, 2012
LANCASTER — Although it is still a long shot, a new industry could be looking to locate a new facility in town.

Two representatives of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a full-service private corrections management provider, will present information to a joint meeting of the board of selectmen and Planning Board at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 7, at town hall, town manager Ed Samson said in a Friday morning interview.

The Nashville-Tenn.-based CCA has identified a potential site for a private prison on a hill that abuts the town-owned industrial park-gravel pit off Route 3, north of town, he said.

CCA is one of the four companies that responded to the state's Requests for Proposal (RFP) for contractors to take over some or all of its prisons.

CCA is also interested in other sites in New Hampshire, he said.

The state also received bids from three other companies: Boca-Raton-Fla.-based Geo Group Inc.; Centerville-Utah-based Management and Training Corp.; and a new company — NH Hunt Justice Group — an LLC that is a partnership of two Texas-based firms, including Hunt Companies, a large construction company, and LaSalle Corrections, a small prison operator. The state Department of Administrative Services is overseeing the evaluation of bid proposals and aims to report on its findings in the fall. All the bidders apparently proposed building and likely operating a men's prison with a maximum capacity of 1,450 as well as an alternative option for a men's and women's prison to be located on the same site.

In November, the state issued its RFP. Gov. John Lynch referred to the initiative in his Jan. 31 state-of-the-state address: "At the Department of Corrections, we've issued requests for proposal to examine new approaches to running our corrections system."

Samson had noted in an earlier conversation that unlike federal, state or county prisons, private ones pay local property taxes, in addition to providing steady jobs with benefits.

Neither the federal nor the state prison located on the East Side of Berlin pays property taxes.

Opponents of prison privatization say that it can result in inmate maltreatment plus a neglect of rehabilitative services, aimed a reducing recidivism.

CCA, a publicly traded company that reported $162.5 million in net income in 2011, operates federal, state, and local detention facilities with a design capacity of more than 85,000 beds, according to its website. Operating income increased to $332.1 million during 2011, up from $323.1 million in 2011, an increase of 2.8%. The improvement in our financial results for 2011 resulted from a 3.4% increase in our average daily inmate population to 81,016 for 2011, up from 78,319 during 2010. Operating expenses during 2010 included $4.1 million of bonuses paid to non-management level staff in-lieu of wage increases.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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