Florida Looks At Inmate Export To Save Money

By: Whitney Ray
By: Whitney Ray

Florida has just 5,000 empty prison cells and expects to need 19,000 thousand more in coming years. In February the state’s largest business lobby called for the release of some nonviolent offenders to save construction costs and tax dollars.

“We were looking at about 100 million dollars per facility. There were three that were planned,” said Jose Gonzalez a spokesman with the Associated Industries of Florida.

Lawmakers decided not to spend money on new prisons, but they also didn’t release any prisoners. Instead, they approved shipping inmates out of state or paying private prisons to lighten the load.

The Corrections Corporation of American is the country’s largest private prison company, they also stand to make the most money off the deal. A spokesman for the company refused our request for an on camera interview.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents corrections officers, says private prisons aren’t reliable.

“They’re for profit. Their staff is not the most well trained. They cut corners in the programs that they say that they offer,” said Matt Puckett with the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

And DOC fears inmates wouldn’t be rehabilitated as well if they were sent out of Florida.

“Secretary McNeil has concerns about placing prisoners out of state. He believes removing inmates further from their communities and families undermines the goal of reducing recidivism,” said Jo Ellyn Rackleff, a spokeswoman with the Department of Corrections.

DOC says it will only move prisoners out of state as a last resort or if a major storm forces inmates to evacuate. By contracting with other states or private companies, Florida will pay housing and operations costs, but avoids spending money on construction.

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  • by zone Location: Florida on Jun 23, 2009 at 02:56 PM
    Doing away with the parole system and making prisoners serve 85% of their sentence has doomed the taxpayer to pay through the nose for the upkeep of prisons and staff. If inmates were eligible for parole after serving 66% of their sentence, this would free up many prison beds. If the inmates were screened properly and earned the right to parole, I'm sure many of the first time offenders wouldn't commit another crime, having realized what losing their freedom means. There has to be a better system than locking up criminals and throwing away the key. The answer certainly isn't to continue building prisons. There should be more rehabilitation while incarcerated to prepare them for the outside world.
  • by Joe on Jun 8, 2009 at 07:26 PM
    America has the highest prison population in the world - much, much higher than any other country. We need to do things diffrently. Locking people up is not always the answer. We should be "smart on crime" and not quite so "tough on crime" unless you want the prison system to take more of your money in taxes. Also - doing drugs should not get you jailtime. You can send them to rehab cheaper than sending them to jail.
  • by tax payer Location: usa on Jun 8, 2009 at 05:48 PM
    the legal system has becom a business. i wonder how the money is being divided up.there is a lot of money to be made off your children's lives with the games the crooked judges playes with human lives. i meam they let the one's that need to be in prision off ith a light sentence and lock up your children for a long time for penny anny crimes and destroy them all for money.
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