Prisons

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky  from Crime and Punishment

In this fearless edition of Word of Mouth, we take new steps and utter new words about crime, punishment and everything in between.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Nearly 24 years after the courts first ordered a new facility for female inmates, the New Hampshire House has approved a capital budget with $38 million set aside for a 224-bed women's prison in Concord.

A class action lawsuit is driving lawmakers to act now.

Thirty years ago, Corrections Corporation of America opened its first private prison. As demand for border patrol increased over the decades, so has its earnings. Last year, CCA brought in $1.7 billion dollars in revenue – a quarter of which came from government agencies enforcing immigration policy and incarcerating non-citizens in the US. Lee fang is Reporting Fellow with the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. He probed the connection between prison profits and stiffer immigration policies and came up with some unsettling answers.

Thirty years ago, Corrections Corporation of America opened its first private prison. As demand for border patrol increased over the decades, so has its earnings. Last year, CCA brought in $1.7 billion dollars in revenue – a quarter of which came from government agencies enforcing immigration policy and incarcerating non-citizens in the US. Lee fang is Reporting Fellow with the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

2013 is a year in which New Hampshire Commissioner of Corrections, William Wrenn will face some considerable challenges.  Facilities are packed, jobs have been cut, there's the on going problem of recidivism, and a huge debate over the privatization or partial privatization of prisons.  Add to that, a lawsuit filed last August against the State suggesting that women inmates aren't receiving the same treatment and access to services as their male counterparts.  Today we sit down with Commissioner Wrenn about this and take your calls.

Guest:

Tim Pearce, Los Gatos via Flickr

This year, there’s been a lot more talk about New Hampshire going the route of as the Governor and others explore the idea of private companies running our corrections institutions.  But questions remain -- about the rehabilitation of prisoners, inmate and employee safety, and whether, in the end, the cost savings would be enough to make this shift worthwhile.

Guests:

Harris Kenny: policy analyst, Reason Foundation

A series of fatal riots inside Mexican prisons last week and a deadly blaze at a penitentiary in Honduras are prompting calls for major penal reform in Central America.

Violence at three different penitentiaries in Mexico last week left 48 inmates dead, while the inferno in Honduras earlier this month killed 360 prisoners.

These deadly events underscore the problems of corruption, overcrowding, prison gangs and crumbling infrastructure that prisons face throughout the region.

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