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Bogdanoff balks at closing Broward County prison

All politics is local. Now that a South Florida senator has been placed in charge of a budget committee overseeing prisons, a plan by Gov. Rick Scott's administration to close prisons due to a shrinking inmate population is getting a fresh look.

Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, took the place of Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who was sacked last week for strongly opposing a Senate leadership-backed privatization of South Florida prisons.

Bogdanoff supports privatization. But she is not sold on a Department of Corrections plan to close Broward Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Pembroke Pines. "I have some concerns with some of the decisions that were made," Bogdanoff says. "The next closest prison for females is 300 miles away. Women a lot of times have children, and because they're only about 6 or 7 percent of the total inmate population, they don't have that many facilities ... Is there an alternative? I don't know."

Bogdanoff also said residents of Jefferson County east of Tallahassee have made "some compelling arguments" in favor of keeping open the county's largest employer, Jefferson C.I. in Monticello.

The prison closure plan is delicate terrain for lawmakers, because it technically does not require legislative approval. But Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker would be wise to pay close attention to legislative preferences, and lawmakers could insert money and language into the budget directing Tucker's agency to keep specific prisons open. -- Steve Bousquet