Follow the Money | January 30, 2012 by Institute Staff
Florida is home to the nation’s third-largest penal system, a fact likely not lost on the state’s lawmakers when they finalized the state’s $69.7 billion budget last May. Taking aim at $4 billion in government spending, last year’s budget included a plan to privatize prisons in the southern third of the state that would have nearly quadrupled the number of Florida prisons run by private firms.
The Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the correctional officers’ union, sued the state over the original privatization plan and was successful in halting its implementation. The PBA argued that lawmakers should have used separate legislation — not the budget bill — to authorize the private prisons. Jackie Fulford, a Florida Circuit Court Judge, agreed with the union. Undeterred, privatization proponents recently introduced two new pieces of legislation for the 2012 session, SB 2036 and 2038, that would turn over 29 correctional facilities in an 18-county region to private companies.
On January 18, reports the Herald Tribune, lawmakers on the Senate Rules Committee voted to introduce the two bills. Now, the bills are now waiting action in the Senate Budget Committee before going on to the full Senate.
Institute records show that donors from the private prison industry made nearly $1 million in contributions to Florida campaigns in 2010—the most the industry has given over the last decade, as illustrated by the Institute’s Industry Influence tool. The majority of the money came from five companies–Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), Global Tel* Link, Armor Correctional Health Services, and LCS Corrections Services, Inc.
Click here to continue reading on Follow the Money