Florida Legislature Makes Stealth Move to Privatize Prisons

The Florida Senate slips language into its newly proposed budget that seeks to give corporations the chance to run correctional facilities and probation services.

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Florida makes stealth move to privatize prisons.

The Miami Herald is reporting that the Florida Senate quietly slipped language into its newly proposed budget Monday that seeks to give corporations the chance to run correctional facilities and probation services in 18 counties, in what could signal a massive private takeover of public prisons.

The move -- which could shift nearly $600 million to private firms -- surprised prison guards, their unions and even the head of the state Senate's Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee, Mike Fasano, who said that his committee was opposed to the idea of privatizing prisons when it was proposed by Gov. Rick Scott's aides. "We made it clear that we weren't interested. We moved on without doing it," said Fasano. "And now it appears in the budget. I'm not pleased. It is a huge, substantive issue. It's a major policy change, and it should have at least been discussed publicly.”

The House's proposed budget, released Friday, takes a far more measured approach to privatizing probation and prisons. It calls for a private operator to run the facilities and services in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Those two counties are included in the Senate's plan, which was spearheaded by Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander and seeks to privatize services all the way north to Manatee County.

Surprise, surprise -- slipping in a major plan to privatize prisons and not informing unions of the possible policy change. We wonder who will get those contracts if this legislation goes through. Republicans keep saying that they want less government. Perhaps they should change their mantra to less government, more big business.

Seriously, everything, including the privatization of prisons, should be up for discussion, not secretly embedded in a larger piece of legislation with no mention of it to the parties that would be directly affected. Now, that's shady, disingenuous and dead wrong to boot.

Read more at the Miami Herald.

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