Florida Republicans Might Have Finally Realized Prison Privatization is a Giant Scam

Posted on February 1, 2012

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Senate President Mike Haridopolos really wants the scandalous Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) to get a huge contract to run Florida’s prisons so they can make a giant profit. But since nearly 4,000 people could lose their jobs and the state might not even save any money, despite bending over backwards for a private company at the expense of taxpayers, members of Florida’s senate are not that into the idea anymore. The lack of enthusiasm for the privatization project has led Haridopolos to cut off debate until Wednesday.

According to the AP, several of Haridopolos’ and Senate budget chief JD Alexander’s Republican colleagues don’t believe the hype that savings from handing over the keys to Florida’s prisons over to the CCA will lead to savings that can for more public services, especially with 4,000 prison employees potentially losing their jobs.

“They didn’t prove to me — and I think they didn’t prove to many members of the Senate — that there’s a guarantee of savings,” Sen. Mike Fasano said.

Fasano, a Republican, has been at the forefront of opposition to the bill and rallied against it with the AFL-CIO members outside the senate building. has said the state should not turn over facilities that were built with taxpayer dollars to private companies, according to Sunshine State News.

“If this bill passes, two companies that have spent a lot of money, a lot of time and donated a lot of money will be the only benefactors of this bill that is being pushed right now,” Fasano said. “When you’re privatizing, you’re privatizing public safety.”

Senator Paula Dockery, who opposes the bill, added even more perspective to how utterly ridiculous the bill is.

“Is it really worthwhile to attempt to save $16 million out of a $2.3 billion budget when we will be laying off 3,800 employees on top of closing 11 prisons where we’re already laying off almost 1,300 employees?” Dockery said. “And if the savings was a mere $16-to-$18 million, would we not ask the Department of Corrections to pare their budget by $16-to-$18 million?”

At the heart of the battle is the magic number of $16 million – the amount supporters of the bill claim CCA will save them and Haridopolos says that shouldn’t be considered chump change.

“This bill is contentious and I recognize that,” Haridopolos told reporters. “But I do take offense when people say a ‘mere’ 16.5 million dollars. This is a lot of money. That’s 300 teachers’ (salaries). I think that matters to people.”

Of course, Florida can save a lot more than $16 million if they just didn’t lock up drug offenders. According to Florida TaxWatch, the state spends $300 million on incarceration for drug offenders in fiscal year 2010-11. The cost of mandatory minimum offenses was $100 million.

Simply by respecting people’s constitutional rights and not locking them up for drug offenses, Florida would be able to hire a lot more than 300 teachers.

 

 

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