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Decision on appeal of prison ruling expected soon

Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker told lawmakers Tuesday that a decision on whether to appeal rejection of a massive prison privatization project is expected " this week."

Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford ruled last Friday that the Legislature illegally directed the outsourcing of prisons in 18 South Florida counties in the budget, and that a bill should have been passed.

Appearing before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Tucker said a decision would be made "probably within this week." He said: "We're still evaluating at this point what our options may be. What are the next steps? Where do we go from here? Will an appeal be filed?"

That's about as specific as Tucker was in his 20-minute appearance. In only his fourth week on the job, he said, "I especially appreciate your patience with me."

Tucker outlined the prison system's 2012 legislative package, which includes privatization of the work of transporting inmates to and from other states.

Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald staff writer