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Plan to privatize South Florida prisons advances

As the House Appropriations Committee debates a $66.5-billion budget proposal, the most spirited debate involved a proposal to privatize prison and probation operations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Private prisons are nothing new -- the state has seven -- but privatizing the supervision of probationers is uncharted territory. (The panel approved the budget on a 15-8 party line vote).

"This subject probably hasn't been addressed anywhere in the nation," said Jim Baiardi, president of the Florida PBA's correctional officers chapter, who testified in opposition. "Where we're thinking of going is truly terrible for public safety." 

Rep. Martin Kiar, D-Davie, tried to abolish the privatization language but failed on a 14-9 vote. Rep. Will Snyder, R-Stuart, joined all eight committee Democrats in voting against privatization. The only South Florida Republican on the committee, Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, the House majority leader, voted for privatization.

Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, who chairs the budget subcommittee for prisons, emphasized that the privatization idea is a "proposal" and must be approved by a 14-member Joint Legislative Budget Commission. "When you have less money, you can't continue to do business as usual," he said. 

The Department of Corrections did not propose the privatization and is "neutral" on the concept, Deputy Secretary Dan Ronay says.

-- Steve Bousquet

Comments

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Fred

Bend over state employees here it comes.

MS.K

This is a horrible idea. The community has no idea what this will do to our society. There's a large majority of the probation population that needs to be supervised by law enforcement...PERIOD! PLEASE DON'T ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN. I NEED MY JOB & I NEED TO RAISE MY KIDS IN A SAFE ENVIROMENT.

Mark

The state hasn’t necessarily done a bang up job running the prison system over the last 5 or 6 years. No raises, no working budgets, corruption at the top. The list goes on. Maybe having it operated by professional administrators instead of “the old crony” system would be a positive. Probably not but it will be interesting to say the least.

PJARRIEL

IT JUST KEEPS GETTING MORE FUNNY, THEY SAY THEY ARE MAKING NEW JOBS FOR PEOPLE IN FLORIDA, BUT CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS ALREADY EMPLOYED WILL LOSE THEIR JOB SO SOMEONE ELSE CAN TAKE IT. MY SON HAS MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY HE IS 5 YEARS OLD NOW IF HIS DAD LOSES HIS JOB OVER THIS HOW WILL WE SURVIVE. ITS JUST NOT FAIR

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