Crime & Public Safety

Should NH privatize state prisons?

Sep 11, 2017

New Hampshire has considered privatizing the prison system in the past, but has also rejected a state law that would have banned private prisons. Read more about this issue. On September 11, Citizens Count, NH’s Live Free or Die Alliance decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should NH privatize the state prison system?”

Should NH privatize state prisons?

Private Prisons NH Citizen Voices Chart

Participation: 368 participants gave 697 responses.

A total of 96% of those participating gave a ‘yes or no’ response to the question. The remaining 4% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a ‘yes or no’ response. In total, 368 individuals from New Hampshire contributed a total of 697 responses or reactions to this question. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said

No: An overwhelming majority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 98%, were against privatizing New Hampshire’s state prison system.

  • “Privatized prisons incentivize incarceration.  If the prison exists to make a profit, the goal of rehabilitating prisoners into members of society who positively contribute ceases to exist.”
  • “Privatized prisons are an invitation to abuse and exploitation, as has been proven in other states.”
  • “No. Private prisons require prisoners to maintain a profit margin. Various states have been sued for not maintaining numbers above 93%. The last thing the state of New Hampshire needs is to be sued by the private prison industry for maintaining a high prison population. It sets a very dangerous precedent.”

Yes: A minority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 2%, were in favor of privatizing the state prison system.

  • “Yes. Anytime a private company takes over a government run business it's done better and cheaper.”
  • “Yes [and] prisoners should be made to work to pay back the debt of being housed and fed there.”

Other: As noted above, 4% of those participating did not give a ‘yes or no’ response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:  

  • Sentencing: “Cut the non-violent offenders loose on parole.”
  • Implementation: “If New Hampshire wants to improve the effectiveness of our corrections system, private prisons can be an effective part, but only by making rehabilitation an incentive for the prison operators.  Rather than paying them for locking people up and keeping them locked up, pay them for returning people to productive members of society, for keeping them from committing new crimes and incentivize them for reducing the need for prisons.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Read the full Facebook discussion of this question.


Maureen Robinson
- Winchester

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 7:51pm


Privatized Prisons are, by their very nature, profitable prisons. I do believe that there has already been a problem with privatizing the phone systems at some prisons and jails and foresee similar out comes if they are totally turned over to private parties.

Jackie Benson
- Kensington

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 8:42am


I know the argument is that private industry can create greater efficiency, but putting a profit motive into prisons is a bad idea, unless there's some way to shift the incentive. As it stands, the company running the prison does better if we have more prisoners who are stuck in jail for longer times - which directly contradicts the goal of decreasing recidivism.

If there were some way to attach an incentive to getting prisoners rehabilitated and preventing them from reoffending, then perhaps we could talk about privatization.

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