Senate Has New Plan To Privatize Numerous Florida Prisons

January 14, 2012

After being rebuffed by a judge for its effort to privatize several prisons because of the way lawmakers went about it, the Legislature will try again to shed several prisons, this time doing it in statute.

The Senate Rules Committee on Friday quietly released a proposal and scheduled a hearing for this coming Wednesday to discuss the proposed committee bill (SPB 7172), which would require the Department of Corrections to privatize all prisons and other correctional facilities in 18 counties in the southern half of the state.

Private companies wishing to bid on the prisons – which could go to multiple companies or in one big contract to just one company – must be able to find 7 percent cost savings to the state to get the contract.

The Legislature passed nearly the same measure last year, but it did it in the fine print of the state budget known as proviso language, rather than passing a bill that went through the committee process. That violated the Florida Constitution, Judge Jackie Fulford ruled in September. That decision is on appeal currently.

The bill would appear to take care of that concern, at least, though it won’t appease the critics of privatization in general. The head of the Teamsters Union local that represents corrections officers said Friday that the state is rushing into a wholesale privatization effort without thinking it through or hearing from everyone who has an interest in the issue.

“There has to be a comprehensive study – this makes a tremendous impact on the different communities … we kind of think this is a rush to judgment,” said Ken Wood, acting president of Teamsters Local 2011.

The measure’s release comes a day after the Department of Corrections announced it will also close seven prisons around the state by the middle of the year. Those seven prisons, and four additional work camps also slated for closure, wouldn’t be included in the privatization plan.

The bill would require the department to privatize all prison facilities, including annexes, prisons, and work release centers in Manatee, Hardee, Indian River, Okeechobee, Highlands, St. Lucie, DeSoto, Sarasota, Charlotte, Glades, Martin, Palm Beach, Hendry, Lee, Collier, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

That would include several prisons classified as “major institutions” by the Corrections Department, including Everglades Correctional Institution, Homestead C.I., Dade C.I., and the South Florida Reception Center, all in Miami-Dade County; Charlotte C.I. in Charlotte County; Martin C.I. in Martin County; Hardee C.I. in Hardee County; and Okeechobee C.I., in Okeechobee County.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, Ann Howard, said the Legislature makes the policy.

“Whatever it is that goes through, we will enforce,” Howard said.


8 Responses to “Senate Has New Plan To Privatize Numerous Florida Prisons”

  1. DO WHAT! on January 18th, 2012 11:12 pm

    Alabama tried this stunt several years ago to save a buck. They came to there senses and realized if a private firm hires co’s and pay them a substandard wage they would get substandard work and basicaly the inmates would run the prison. What the general public does not know our Gov. Rick Scott has a great interest in this plan. You guessed it. I sure hope this plan fails. This plan would put a great strain on our CO’s and the safety of the general public.

  2. DDMcC on January 15th, 2012 5:14 pm

    This idea is absolute insanity, turning people into a money making commodity. Are we to believe there will not be an incentive to fill these prisons up after they are put in for – profit status? The State is supposed to represent the people. If the people make the laws, the people should be the ones responsible for following thru with corrections, or punishment, or retribution, call it what you will, not a for – profit corporation with stock holders to enrich. As a citizen of Florida, this makes me sick. This is yet another reason to support the Occupy movement. Get off the couch and make a difference!

  3. Amber on January 15th, 2012 1:57 pm

    I feel so sorry for DC employees and their families. They haven’t had raises or promotions in years and now some will be unemployed. It just seems like everytime they almost get to the top of the mountain, that last rock that they step on turns out to be nothing more than a loose pebble (i.e. little Ricky) and they fall back down to the bottom. Breaks my heart! :(

  4. Bob on January 15th, 2012 6:51 am

    Sounds like a wonderful idea to me. Can you imagine for a minute,privatizing all the prisons in the state. They will certainly be run for a profit. I would imagine in the process cable T.V and many other bonus items enjoyed will disappear. Maybe this will deter a lot of people from a life of crime. Its time we stop petting and pampering these criminals,treat them just like what they are {misfits of our society}.

  5. sktmax on January 14th, 2012 2:01 pm

    The Geo Group is a big financial supporter of rick Scott and this is what they want in return.

  6. Kathy on January 14th, 2012 7:56 am

    Well who ever is pushing it in the house and senate of Fla is getting some kind of kick back, or they would stop and think about and talk to those people most involved. The one guy that RIck the Dick hired to run corrections left pretty quick after starting in Fla. must be a sign of something stupid.

  7. Oversight on January 14th, 2012 7:09 am

    …and the state will now have to find a way now to house prisoners and it’ll be through privatization. The state is causing this situation due to its mis-guided closures in its effort to force the issue.

  8. huh on January 14th, 2012 6:33 am

    Citizens need to stand up and fight this, for profit prisons will only create incentive to jail people! Its completely biased in the favor of the prison owner!

    Its completely insane that the idea has even got this far. Citizens should stand up and put a stop to it

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