Bill Text - HB1272 (2020)

Prohibiting prison privatization.

Revision: Dec. 2, 2019, 1:40 p.m.










AN ACT prohibiting prison privatization.


SPONSORS: Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21; Rep. Harriott-Gathright, Hills. 36; Rep. Meuse, Rock. 29; Rep. Berch, Ches. 1; Rep. King, Hills. 33


COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety






This bill prohibits the department of corrections from transferring custody of prisoners to a correctional facility operated by a private or for-profit entity, except when the governor, upon recommendation of the commissioner of the department of corrections, declares by executive order that a corrections emergency exists.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.






In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty


AN ACT prohibiting prison privatization.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


1  Legislative Findings.  The general court hereby finds and declares that:

I.  The management and operation of a correctional facility involves functions that are inherently governmental.  The imposition of punishment on errant citizens through incarceration requires the state and local government to exercise their coercive police powers over individuals and is thus distinguishable from privatization in other areas of government.

II.  Issues of liability, accountability, and cost warrant a prohibition of the ownership, operation, or management of correctional facilities by for-profit private contractors.

2  Department of Corrections; Powers and Duties of Commissioner.  Amend RSA 21-H:8, VI-VII to read as follows:

VI.  The commissioner may enter into contracts with the state’s counties, the governments of other states, [and] the federal government, [and] or other appropriate [private] government agencies or facilities and make proper and necessary arrangements with them for the transfer and reception of inmates and allow transfers to state prisons of any person.  Any person who is confined awaiting trial on a felony charge may be transferred to the state prison from the county correctional facility, upon the recommendation of the superintendent of the county department of corrections, and with the approval of the county commissioners of said county.  The superintendent may transfer a prisoner, without the approval of the county commissioners, if the superintendent determines the transfer is necessary for public safety or emergency reasons.  The county commissioners shall review any such transfer at their next regular meeting.  If the county commissioners reject the transfer, the prisoner shall be returned to the facility from which the prisoner came as soon as practicable.

VII.(a)  The commissioner may order the assignment and transfer of persons committed to his or her custody to correctional facilities of the department or correctional facilities operated by state governments in other jurisdictions, or public facilities under contract with the department.  The commissioner shall not enter into a contract with a private or for-profit entity for the custody of state inmates.

(b)  Notwithstanding subparagraph (a), if the governor, upon recommendation of the commissioner, declares by executive order that a corrections emergency exists that requires the commissioner to enter into a temporary contract with a private or for-profit entity to secure provisional housing for displaced inmates, the commissioner may enter into such a contract, pending approval of the governor and the council.  Temporary contracts entered into under this section shall not permanently or indefinitely replace New Hampshire department of corrections correctional facilities or contracts with other publicly-operated facilities.

3  Applicability.  This act shall not apply to any contract entered into prior to the effective date of this act by the commissioner of the department of corrections with a private entity for the custody of prisoners.  Upon the expiration of any such contract, the commissioner shall transfer custody of such prisoners to a state or county correctional facility operated by the state of New Hampshire or another state government, or the federal government.  This act shall not apply to contracts for goods and services which are ancillary to the custody of inmates such as medical or educational services, or repair and maintenance contracts.

4  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.