Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Florida prison privatization ALREADY open for bids

Florida just can't privatize its prisons fast enough.

This week the state formally sought plans from private companies to run prisons in an 18-county region in South Florida. Bidders must produce documentation and visit all 30 prisons planned for privatization by August 16. Skelator Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature have set January 1, 2012, as the deadline for privatization to go into effect.

The state will only hire one company to run all of the prisons. Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss said about hiring one vendor:
You’ll get a better price. More volume, better price. This is going to be some of the most competitive bidding the country has ever seen for private prisons.
Potential bidders include corporate prison giants Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), based in Nashville, and Geo Group, based locally in Boca Raton. Both companies already operate prisons in Florida and both are members of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a corporate front group that not only promotes privatization, but also policies that give prison companies more business (i.e., locking up more prisoners).

The private vendor that wins the bidding process must offer programs designed to successfully reduce recidivism. Recidivism is good for business, you say? Better yet, locking up immigrants for corporate profit, as CCA discovered with ALEC's help.

Both potential bidders have –surprise—close ties to the governor and legislature, having given millions in political contributions. GEO Group was recently found to have exceeded state contribution limits.

A body of 14 state legislators will ultimately award the final bidder.

It’s all too close for comfort.