Tallahassee, Florida - March 31, 2011 --
Responding Wednesday to a question about how privatization of prisons might be perceived, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said most people believe there is a difference between cops on the street and corrections officers in prisons – and that many newer prisons don’t need as many guards.
The Senate has suggested privatizing much of Florida’s prison system, potentially saving $70 million. “A prison guard is doing a very important job, but is not a police officer,” said Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, adding he would rather make cuts in areas like prisons than education. Asked by a reporter whether he meant that corrections officers weren’t law enforcement officers, Haridopolos clarified: “Prison guards are law enforcement,” he said. “They both serve the public very well.” Police Benevolent Association lobbyist Jim Baiardi said later that corrections officers go through similar training as police. “Prison guards have to deal with convicted felons, and people on Death Row,” Baiardi said.