Four companies bid for N.H. private prison contract

Four corporations have all bid either to build or run a men’s prison in New Hampshire, according to the Department of Administrative Services, but what they propose and how much their services will cost will be kept under wraps until the agency and the state Department of Corrections make their recommendation.Three of the companies — Corrections Corporation of America, Management & Training Corp. and The Geo Group Inc. — have extensive experience running private prisons. Hunt Companies Inc. is an apparent newcomer to the field.No one has responded to the state’s request for proposal for a much smaller women’s prison. The RFP due date for a proposed hybrid facility that would house both men and women hasn’t arrived yet.The four bidding companies are just a fraction of the 20 or so that initially expressed interest in the state’s request for proposal to build a prison that will hold 1,500 inmates who are currently held in the state-owned facility in Concord.Corrections officials believe that the State Prison is overcrowded and in disrepair, and the state was hoping to save money by hiring a private firm to build a new one.One way hiring a for-profit company could lower New Hampshire’s costs is by importing convicts from nearby states. The RFP allows a company to propose a larger facility that would allow for this. Thus far, no other New England state has built a private prison. The closest prisons built by the three major bidders are all in Ohio.The state hasn’t actually committed a privately run prison, but the RFPs have attracted considerable interest, with the three major prison firms all hiring lobbyists in the state.The four bidders are: • Corrections Corporation of America, a publicly traded company from Nashville, Tenn., which says that it has 75,000 inmates locked up in 60 facilities in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Last year, the company reported $438.3 million in revenue with a profit of $43.7 million. • The GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla.,, another publicly traded company, claims it owns 114 correctional detention and residential facilities, encompassing about 80,000 beds. Last year, the company reported $406.5 million in revenue and $18.6 million in profits. • Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, is a privately held contractor involved in management of U.S. Job Corps facilities as well as prisons. MTC says it has the capacity to service nearly 26,000 inmates, with 19 management contracts in seven states. The firm however got a little pre-publicity in New Hampshire when developer, and former state senator, Richard Danais revealed that he was talking with MTC to build a private prison on a 100-acre plot he bought from the city last year in the Hackett Hill neighborhood. • NH Hunt Justice Group LLC, whose corporate paperwork was signed by a vice president of Hunt Companies Inc. of El Paso, Texas, and operates out of the Texas headquarters. Hunt Companies is a family-run real estate and construction company involved in a number of public-private partnerships, but its website does not mention prisons. It claims it has built some 70,000 military housing units, with 40,000 still under its management in 20 states. It also claims to have 17,864 non-military multifamily housing units.William McGonagle, the state’s assistant corrections commissioner, said it will take at least another month before a recommendation can be made. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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