Sen. Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican running for governor, has written DOC Secretary Walt McNeil and DMS Secretary Linda South in an effort to find out more about the private prison Blackwater deal (more here on the background). The letter is here:
Dear Secretary McNeil and Secretary South:
As chair of the Florida Senate’s Committee on Criminal Justice, I am interested in the background of the Blackwater River Correctional Facility (Blackwater) in Santa Rosa County. I am aware that an appropriation of approximately $87,000,000 was made in 2008 to contract for a 2,000 bed private correctional facility to house medium and close custody inmates. The appropriation did not specify a location for the facility or that the facility would primarily house special needs inmates.
I request clarification about the history of the facility, including, but not limited to, the following issues:
• Whether the appropriation was requested by either the Department of Corrections or the Department of Management Services and, if so, the basis for the request.
• A summary of the responses to ITN #DMS 08/09-026 (including vendor, proposed location, proposed cost, and any distinguishing features of the proposal).
• The origin of consideration of Santa Rosa County as a location for the facility and identification of other sites that were considered.
• The origin of the decision that the majority of the inmates in the facility would be special needs inmates who require chronic medical and mental health treatment, and whether that decision affected the costs of construction.
I would appreciate a timely response to this request. It is not intended to be burdensome and you should contact me or my staff if there are difficulties with responding in a timely fashion.