DOC Employees Come To Statehouse To Protest Closures, Privatization
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Turning prison facilities over to for-profit companies won’t save Florida taxpayers any money and will probably cost them more, said Teamster correctional officers, their families, their neighbors and union officials who came to the Statehouse Monday.
Former Sen. Ron Silver, attorney for Teamsters Local 2011 in Tampa, testified against the privatization proposal at a hearing of the Senate Rules Committee.
“This is yet another proposal based on empty promises of savings to the state,” Silver said. “The thousands of families and hundreds of local communities impacted by this proposal deserve better from their state officials. What recourse do they have after they lose their jobs and the promised savings are never realized? This is about real people, real families and real communities facing irreparable harm.”
Ken Wood, Acting President of Local 2011, said the rush to privatize correctional facilities has nothing to do with cost savings.
“After many conversations with our members and a great deal of research, I’m convinced that privatization is about political payback, not saving money,” said Wood. “This is just politics as usual.”
There is almost no evidence that Florida’s for-profit prisons have saved money, according to a 2010 Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy report. The report noted that prisoners who are most costly to handle, such as high-security risks, are usually housed in public prisons.
Wood said the proposed closing of 11 facilities is directly related to privatization. “Whether it’s a closure or a privatization, these reckless proposals will hurt thousands of Florida’s working families,” he said.
Capt. Mark Prevatt, a correctional officer at Jefferson C.I., said closing the institution will have a major impact on the staff and on the community, which is a rural area of critical economic concern. “There are no jobs for this county, this is it,” he said. “Closing the facility will put the small businesses under, because there will be no one there to support them.
“None of the private facilities was subject to the same criteria as the public facilities, and non-specified, non-weighted factors were used. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair.”
The plans include closures of the New River Correctional in Raiford, Jefferson Correctional in Monticello, Demilly Correctional Institute in Polk City, Gainesville C.I., Indian River C.I. in Vero Beach, and the women’s prisons Broward C.I. in Fort Lauderdale and Hillsborough C.I. in Riverview near Tampa.
The department also plans to close work camps in Gadsden, Washington and Hendry counties and the Levy forestry camp.
Reprint Courtesy Teamsters.org
TALLAHASSEE — As the Legislature was steaming toward passage of privatization of a huge chunk of its prison system last spring, public records suggest the Florida Department of Corrections was removing its most violent prisoners from the facilities slated to be outsourced.
According to an Aug. 31 DOC email obtained by the Florida Police Benevolent Association in the course of its lawsuit against the agency, the department shipped the last of what it terms “close management” inmates out of the Charlotte County prison last April 19, and “there are no facilities in Region IV that accommodate close management inmates.”
Region IV is the collection of prisons in southern Florida that lawmakers tried to privatize last spring, before a judge ruled they had done so by improperly placing the directive in budget language instead of separate legislation.
“Close management” inmates are confined away from the general population, because they “commit acts that threaten the safety of others, threaten the security of the institution, or demonstrate an inability to live in the general population without abusing the rights and privileges of others,” according to DOC’s Web site.
Last week, Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, said he had been told by patients that the department had been quietly shipping off its most dangerous inmates from the Charlotte prison and replacing them with easier-to-handle prisoners…(Full text at Orlando Sentinel)