Scott Moves to Keep Prison Privatization Alive

By: Jim Turner | Posted: February 17, 2012 3:55 AM
Gov. Rick Scott has his office working to determine what he can do to keep up the effort to bid out the services of up to 26 Central and South Florida correctional institutions this session.

With the private outsourcing effort projected by state economists to save at least $16.5 million a year, Scott is trying to determine if he can proceed on his own or through other means after the Florida Senate -- with 10 Republicans joining the entire Democratic roster -- rejected a bill on the future management of the facilities on Tuesday.

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“I’m disappointed the Senate didn’t do that; I’m going to look at what I have the opportunity to do,” Scott told reporters while at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy in Havana Thursday morning.

“I’m going to make sure we don’t waste money in the state.”

There has been unconfirmed talk throughout the Capitol that Scott could act on his own to proceed with privatization -- an effort approved by the Legislature a year ago but halted by a judge in late September.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said after the vote that further cuts would have to come from education and health care.
Scott, noting that he didn’t include the privatization effort in his proposed budget for the coming year, said the Senate had a chance to save money for health care and education.

“I got elected to hold the government accountable, to not waste taxpayers’ money,” Scott said. “So here was an opportunity that the Senate had, to give us an opportunity to save us a significant amount of money.”

The outsourcing effort was approved as part of the state budget in the previous session, only to be overturned by a Leon County Circuit Court judge who accepted the Florida Police Benevolent Association’s argument that the privatization effort should have been done as a separate bill.

The state continues to challenge the court ruling.

For many of those in the Senate opposed to the privatization bill, the question was more a matter of public safety than cost-cutting.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, whose opposition to privatization cost him seats on two budget committees, including a chairmanship, said he hopes Scott will consider the Senate’s vote before proceeding further on the issue.

“It’s his prerogative, but I hope he learned that the direction that was abandoned is not the direction that the taxpayers of Florida wanted to go,” Fasano said.

The Senate vote was declared a victory by unions representing the nearly 4,000 correction workers who would have been affected by the conversion from state to private management.

Ken Wood, acting president of Teamsters Local 2011 in Tampa, which represents 20,000 corrections officers, also said the Senate vote reflected the will of the citizens.

“Floridians do not want the rules changed so private companies can get secret contracts with no cost-benefit analysis and no public review,” Wood stated in a release on Thursday.

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As part of the plan, none of the prisons would have been turned over to a private company if the bids failed to provide the state with at least 7 percent savings from the existing costs.

The effort to privatize came as the Department of Corrections is moving forward with plans to close 11 facilities because of an overall drop in the prison population statewide. The full House and the Senate Budget Committee have since budgeted money to keep one of the prisons, the Jefferson Correctional Facility, open due to concerns about the economic impact of the closing on the community.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

Comments (18)

common sense
3:54PM FEB 21ST 2012
As 11 prisons get closed this year, will somebody enlighten me on what is going to happen to those employees???? I guess everybody just assumes the state will take care of them. I suppose your right, it's called unemployement. Ya and I'm sure their families won't be affected at all! And I'm sure if you asked anyone of them they would be happy that their prison is closing and now their out a job.
People! there's more to this than just the budget. Your talking peoples jobs and families. Without these people NO prision would run state or private. It seems these employees are the ones getting the short end of the stick.

FYI Sgt. Monk........ there is a private sector of our military. Do a search and you'll be surprized at what you'll find. Also by the way, I do and have worked with many ex-state correctional officers, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, admin captains, chief of security, assistant wardens and even wardens. So yes they do leave the state to come work for private.

FBOP Retired.......... you said the private prision lost due to labor cost right? Not that it wasn't ran as good as a state facility or better. Hhhmmm, interesting because everybody thinks a private facility is not up to par compared to a state facility. Thanks for the info FBOP
FBOP Retired
12:02AM FEB 18TH 2012
Not to be just negitive, I would like to suggest to Governor Scott this. If he thinks CCA or GEO or the man from Mars runs prisons better then hire him and have that person create the changes with the department.
FBOP Retired
11:54PM FEB 17TH 2012
27 years in corrections and rose to management level. The Bureau of Prisons privatizied prisons during the Bush Admin. If you would like to see the results of that do a google search on Reeves correctional in Texas. This was a low- min. facility. Here is another fact I was personally apart of. 1997 FCC Coleman here in Florida and a private prison in California built by the Bureau exactly the same housing exactly the same number of inmates of the same security level went head to head in a test to see who can run cheaper by the Department of Justice. Coleman won hands down. The private prison lost because of labor costs. Private prisons came into the system anyway. The Bureau said to Bush if you want Private Prisons, OK they were built mostly in Texas. I hope Bush can see the fires from his ranch. Here is the bottom line. Prisons once built and staffed the major cost is always salary. The only way to cut real money is salary. Any of us who have worked the business knows that the enviroment within any prison is negitive and depressing. Now the state of Florida want to create larger problems by cutting salary. It has always been my experience that if a private prison can not handle a certain inmate who is acting up they go to the nearest state facility. Does that mean a bus line daily going from south Florida to the Panhandle is coming. Not likely. They will be taken to local county jails adding to over crowding at the jails and costing the state 50 to 60 dollars a day or whatever that sheriff is charging to house inmates. It won't take long for the inmate population to cost the state of Florida far more than 16 million they HOPE to get. Common sense, you know the problem with common sense?

It's not very common!!!!!
10:28PM FEB 17TH 2012
Why don"t we privatization the US Military. That would save a ton of money. Same logic. It is the job of government to provide for the common defense, not the private sector. Correction Officers are not just state employees. Lets go after FWC, State Troopers, and any Law enforcement agencys that belong to the state. I don't know where they are getting there information about private companies hiring state Correction Officers but its not going to happen. Lets cut some of the waste in Tallahassee. Why does the state pay for the Governer to use his own airplane? Why does all drug test go to a company that is owned by his wife? Unless you have worked behind the wall, you have no idea what an officer goes thru. One more thing, anytime an inmate at a private prison causes a problem he is shipped to a state institution.
common sense
11:51AM FEB 17TH 2012
Wow!!! Reading all these comments really shows me how "in the dark" most of you are toward private prisions. For example, there are far more DOC employees putting in applications to private facilities then private going to DOC. Why is that?...... hhmmm.. Well, private has better benifits, work evoirnment, and the good ol' boy frame of thought is non existant compared to the DOC. Ask any state employee how many benifets have been either cut or decreased in the past 2-3 years. They won't be shy about it, they surely will tell you. Senseless spending has been going on in the DOC for years! Why? Because it's the state (tax payers) money. Thats why! You think all the parties and extra activities going on in the DOC came out of their own pocket???? Heck NO! We payed for it being tax payers. It's about time someone finally steps up and looks at these budgets.
Whats even more funny is, people think because it's a private it's not as good as the DOC! Are you kidding me! Their medical departments are farthure advance then most of the state run prisons. They have programs to help teach inmates skills to help them become working citizens. They offer re-entry programs. Drug and alcohol programs, GED programs, even CDL classes. The list goes on and on!! Ya, private can do it cheap, cause they don't waste money. It's a business. Provide a service for X amount of dollars.
My wife used to work for the DOC, so I've heard many stories of what goes on out of the public eyes. And with having children, our education budget is constantly being cut.
Folks! wake up! If we don't provide good education to our children then one day you might be visiting them at one of these prisons.
As far as them saying if this passes then 4000 state employees will be out jobs......REALLY??? Who do you think private is going to hire to run the prisions???? Think about it!
12:38PM FEB 17TH 2012
common sense:
You crack me up, ha-ha-ha. Whew boy, my side is hurting. Better benefits (I can even spell it) you say? Broo ha ha. Parties and extra activities? Oh my gosh. Wow! Where did you come from? Under a rock?
common sense
1:36PM FEB 17TH 2012
Well let me know how everything works out for ya when the state funding goes furthure into the negative and more "State" prisons shut down. Explain that to the employees who are and will be unemployed and how they'll provide for their families. All your sarcasm isn't helping the problems Florida is faced with. How about you propose some ideas???!!!
11:32AM FEB 18TH 2012
This world don't suffer fools!!! We as a population are to believe that the State of Florida will cut corrections officers due to revenue short falls. Baaahhhaaa!!! It will take a federal judge about five minutes to reverse that stupidity. At point the locals, state and federals are going to find revenue to provide basic functions of Government. They may not want to but they will. As for the private sector, look no further than Waste Management state wide. Garbage is now big business in the US
11:29AM FEB 17TH 2012
This is absolutely scary, in my opinion. First off, this is the responsibility of government, not corporate America. The government seems to have forgotten what they are and are not responsible for. Second, while not a fan of Michael Moore, his documentary "Capitalism," touched on privatized institutions such as these. Private companies exist for one main reason - profit. Without it, people would not have incentive. Why would any profit-making entity want to release "revenue-makers" (ie prisoners)? If this is allowed to pass, I foresee criminals, both minor and serious, spending much more time in jail, with less probability of early release. "Good behavior? Oh no parole board! We recommend ten more years!"
9:41AM FEB 17TH 2012
It never ceases to amaze me the nuts who have occupied the republican party in the name of libertarianism.
If for some reason it costs, 10 dollars for the department of corrections to manage the prison population then surely in the name of shareholder wealth six dollars will not last very long. As a citizen and republican I almost demand that questions be answered before this nightmare be released on the public. Privatization of prisons are not a new concept and there are numerous examples of organizations who have been catastrophic failures when they came to the county or states only to admit failure and hand over the keys to the asylum. Surely private prisons does not avail the taxpayer liability.
I for one can only imagine when the constitution was written that the framers knew certain functions would be necessary functions of the government to avoid the greed of the private sector. It scares me to ponder the thought of private for profit police departments, fire departments, paramedics and prisons even if there are idiots with spreadsheets who can show nominal savings, especially when those saving come at the expense of individual service through small items like wages and benefit packages only to make a stuffed suit who knows little and cares less about public safety rich.
I for one am sick of libertarians who have invaded the republican party who simply preach the value of free market solutions for everything. Everywhere I look I see free market solutions and to be honest I have yet to be impressed, banking, manufacturing or you name it. Seems like the free markets have been handed everything on a silver platter, free trade, low taxes, less individual rights and the ability of the top to shelter in foreign places. Look around I am still not impressed. The US and Florida remains in trouble economically. CEO Scott where are the jobs?
KUDOs to the 10 senators who opposed the CEO Governor, I can only hope more get with the program or suffer primary candidates. As for the CEO running an end around the legislature, I believe the judicial branch will get it right.
To the media please continue to follow the relational money trail between the CEO and the private prison companies. These days it seems you can predict how the politicians will behave based off of whose money idol they are bowing too
Public Safety #1
9:17AM FEB 17TH 2012
This charlatan isn't interested in saving taxpayer money - if he was he wouldn't be wasting it fighting a lawsuit (one of many) that he is surely going to lose.

RepublicanConsience - it's not just about saving money, it's also about public safety, which *IS* the responsibility of government and would be compromised with privatization. I did not hear Scott utter the words public safety once! Requiring cost savings with a lack of accountability for public safety is a recipe for disaster! But then again, that's Scott's forte.
jon millar
8:56AM FEB 17TH 2012
maybe we could outsource some politicians to a private company in China?
7:35AM FEB 17TH 2012
I think the Senate needs to understand Government 101. Governmental services are paid for by the people, not the government. It is the government's responsibility to act as a fiduciary agents in the purchase of any services. Prisons are such an example. If it costs government $10 per inmate for example, and they can accomplish this same service for $6 per inmate, it is the duty of the elected Senate body to pay the lowest price. I is not the responsibility of government to provide jobs, pensions, healthcare, vacations, sick leave, personal days etc. but to incarcerate criminals at the lowest cost.

Scott is doing the right thing and the Republicans in the Senate that voted against the privatization, watch your back you will be primaried over this basic defining issue. No more RINOs, No Compromise, No Surrender. Lead or get out of the way.
10:14AM FEB 17TH 2012
RepublicanConscience; It all looks good and seems to be the right thing to do when you apply YOUR logic and grade school math. But not ALL inmates cost the same amount to incarcerate. There are a great many inmates in this state that are not in the best of health, and like it or not, taxpayers have to pay for their medical and prescription costs.
There are also inmates that are in need of Mental Health services. State and Federal Courts have mandated that these inmates receive these services. Unfortunately Psychologists don’t work for free.
And then there are inmates who, believe it or not, are just downright mean. Because of their behavior problems, they require tougher security measures. This may mean more Correctional Officers per mean inmate and in a more secure facility.
Private prisons do not want the extra expense OR liability of these costlier inmates. But they have to be locked up by somebody and guess who that somebody is? Did you guess the public (state) prison system? If you did then you are correct. This is what is commonly called in the industry as “cherry picking”. So, as you can see, of course the private companies can do it cheaper when they don’t have all these added expenses in their way. It is what I like to call, comparing apples to oranges.
This concludes my lesson on Prisons 101.
10:35AM FEB 17TH 2012
This is not correct. The truth is that DOC is way to top heavy in management. Salaries are the biggest expense in DOC and the good ole boy network from Stark has built a complete top heavy system. Why is there so many "white Shirts" per Corrections officer? Simple answer, Greed. There is so much corruption within the DoC. Look at the wide spread arrest within DOC staff in south florida. The feds had to come in and take over a full C.I. 2 years ago, because of staff corruption. Simple fact is, the current system is broke, and the only was to fix it is to Go private.
9:50AM FEB 17TH 2012
For those who are not looking @ the big picture when it comes to trying to privatize throughout the state, you're only being partial to the entire truth. Would you run into a burning building to try and SAVE somebody who may not even be in that building? Same concept, going into a situation blind would only cause someone to get hurt! Wake up and open your eyes people! If it's not broke, don't try to fix it! If you want cost savings, how about creating a law that incarcerated inmates that intentionally sag their pants below the waistline be fined a$50 fee. That'll save your money right there alone!
Lord Enki
9:00AM FEB 17TH 2012
9:41AM FEB 17TH 2012
Sounds like another Business being built that will eventually become to big to fail and will need bail outs.

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