Florida prison privatisation faces Senate block
FLORIDA A PROPOSAL to privatise at least 26 prisons in south Florida is facing stiff opposition in the Florida Senate and may not have the votes to pass, the chamber’s president and chief backer said on Tuesday.
With the chamber split evenly on the issue, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a Republican, said he will postpone until at least next week a vote on whether the state will outsource a third of its prisons, work camps and other corrections facilities to a private vendor or vendors.
The plan would create the largest private prison system in the United States. Florida currently operates the thirdlargest prison system in the United States, a $2.2 billiona- year system overseeing nearly 101,000 inmates and another 112,800 offenders on community supervision.
Critics question the concept of privatising public safety, saying that privately run prisons have a lower ratio of prison guards to inmates.
They say private prisons have no incentives to rehabilitate inmates and are focused instead on profits.
Unable to yet muster the votes needed for passage, Haridopolos warned lawmakers that failure to pass a prison privatisation measure would result in budget cuts of at least $15 million in other parts of the state’s $69.2 billion budget.
“This is a water balloon process,” Haridopolos said.
“If you choose not to cut in one area, it’s going to come out of another area, because we’re not going to raise taxes to do so.” The state Department of Corrections operates 62 major prison facilities, including seven privately operated facilities; 46 work or forestry camps; 33 workrelease centres; a medical treatment centre; and five road-work prisons.
There are currently 10,128 inmates in privately run facilities.