Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FL prison privatization already $25M over budget

Is anyone the slightest bit surprised that Florida's boondoggle for private prison companies prison privatization is already over budget? By, like, $25 million? 

The Orlando Sentinel reports,
A push to privatize South Florida prisons is already $25 million over budget, even though nothing has happened, thanks to the exorbitant cost of paying for the vacation and sick leave for the 4,000 corrections employees the move would get rid of. The department last week also scrapped plans to privatize health-care services in its prisons statewide.
Both initiatives were pushed by Republicans to save costs.
You don't have to be a criminologist who studies prison privatization to know why it's a bad idea. But here is one such criminologist who trashed Florida's plan. Again, the Sentinel:
Michael Hallett, chair of UNF’s criminology program and author of Private Prisons in America, ...(wrote) “There are so many serious problems with this RFP that it is not easy to digest in one document,” he wrote in the memo he sent to Fasano.
Hallett ... said ... the program could cost the state more money instead of saving it dollars. The biggest problem, he said, is that the the state indicates that it favors awarding the contract for 18 counties to a single vendor.
...The term of the prospective contract will be five (5) years with one five (5) year renewal available.
Hallett argues that this would favor an industry already dominated by just a few companies, making it difficult to create cost efficiencies.
“It renders the state subject to captivity once the contract is awarded, by giving one corporation so much power and control over such a significant segment of the state budget,” he said.
Cory McCray hasn't written a book about prison privatization. He's a young union activist from Baltimore. But he nails the problem with privatizing government services. In a nutshell: less government accountability, rampant misclassification of independent contractors and loss of good middle-class government jobs.

Oh wait, isn't that why Florida decided to privatize the prisons?