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New Hampshire: Religious opposition to for-profits.
Exporting N.H. inmates unwise
Editor, The Citizen:

The Bishop and the Prison Concerns Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire view with alarm Gov. Craig Bensonís interest in sending 1,000 New Hampshire inmates out of state.

It is a bad idea and here is why:

1. The New Hampshire people who live for a time in our prisons have families and loved ones in this state. Sending the offender away breaks this often fragile link. Incentive to recover often depends on ties to caring family members and community support. Without this, the offender feels even more abandoned and hopeless.

2. After completing a sentence out of state, the offender must reintegrate into New Hampshire society. The volunteers, social workers, pastors and family members who visit an inmate here would not be available at a distance to make this transition a smooth one.

3. As many as 1,000 inmates cycle out of prison every year and return to the New Hampshire community. Out-of-state private prisons do not address the readiness of an offender to live in his/her home state.

4. Private prisons are in the profit business. They must fill all the beds. They are not interested in sending people home.

5. As soon as New Hampshire has dismantled one or more of its prisons, the private prison can up the price and we are no longer equipped to bring inmates back.

6. Private prisons reserve the right to choose which inmates they want. They will pick healthy, gentle people with no problems. Those inmates are easy for us too. That leaves New Hampshire with the sick, the violent, the mentally ill and the sex offenders who are more expensive and require more care.

For 27 years, the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire has donated gifts at Christmas time for children of those incarcerated in four prisons. In this past season, we supplied gifts to 3,000 children. This is an unforgettable experience for all concerned, from inmates to their families and to those who volunteer in the program. Our efforts have made a difference. Bonds have been made and strengthened. A spirit of understanding has been forged between those outside and those inside the walls.

Our state is small. We have the ability to take adequate care of our own. Good leadership can be measured by how effectively our citizens can be inspired to partake in this effort. It is worth doing with compassion and energy directed toward the goal of strengthening the fabric of our state. We hope Gov. Benson will reject this plan.

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson
Bishop of New Hampshire
Nancy Clark
Prison Concerns Committee
The Rev. Alice Roberts
Chaplain, N.H. Womenís Prison

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