Rick Scott’s Chopping Block: Florida prisons
In September 2010, two months before winning the election, then candidate Scott talked about balancing the state budget by cutting the salaries of prison employees. At that time, those “in the know” or at least in regards to Rick Scott, saw it for the sleight of hand it was.
Scott’s proposed cut represents more than a third of the agency’s $2.4 billion budget.
Experts who dissected Scott’s plan for the Times/Herald include James McDonough, a former corrections secretary under a Republican governor; state Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, who for years helped craft prison budgets, and David Murrell, leader of the statewide prison guards’ union. The union supports Scott’s Democratic opponent, Alex Sink.
The Republican candidate’s cost-cutting ideas have sent shock waves through the prison work force at a time of near-record unemployment in Florida, especially for lower-income families who represent the vast majority of prison employees.
“It would be devastating,” said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the prison system. “You would have to close prisons.”
But don’t fear, Florida. Now-Governor Rick Scott didn’t cut your salaries. He’s closing your prisons. Glades Correctional Institute (GCI), the largest employer in Belle Glade, will be closing its doors for good, leaving 100s of people jobless and the transfer of prisoners to other facilities. We can at least hope.
Video at the link
Belle Glades residents talk about the threat of the prison shut down.
The facility is on a list of prisons that could be closed or privatized to save the state an estimate $30 million a year.
So there will be more. Where are the prisoners to go? To other, already crowded facilities? Or will they be let out? This was another fear during his campaign. From Factcheck.org, the topic was “Scott’s Prisoner Release Plan?”
This sarcastic bit of drivel starts out:
The ad — “Rick Scott is Florida’s Worst Nightmare” — was released Sept. 27. It is based on Scott’s proposal to cut costs at Florida’s state prisons. On his campaign website, Scott says he can cut $1 billion from the prison budget by reducing labor, medical and food costs. That’s highly unlikely given that the total budget for the Department of Corrections is $2.3 billion (page 360 of state budget).
Enter the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
The PBA ad (cue the ominous music) warns that “Rick Scott’s prison plan would cut Florida’s prison budget in half, close prisons, and release tens of thousands of prisoners early. Murderers, rapists, sex offenders, armed robbers, drug dealers.” The images are both arresting and amusing: menacing men high-fiving and laughing as they are being released by a man wearing a Rick Scott T-shirt.
Naw, not biased at all. Too bad for Factcheck that the Evil Florida PBA was right.
The State Department of Corrections released their statement Wednesday: “The Department was legislatively mandated to initiate its Phase 2 consolidation plan. Glades CI is one of the Institutions being considered for closure as part of this plan. Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss is reviewing all options at this time and no decision has been made.”
That article is dated May 11. See video above for closing information of GCI and there will be more.
Scott will also be privatizing the prison system. Selling the facilities to the highest bidder. It’s a disastrous idea because it sacrifices safety for the bottom dollar. Even republicans in the legislature argued against it.
State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who was recently appointed chairman of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Appropriations committee, isn’t on board with additional prison privatization.
“I don’t have a problem at government looking at privatization in certain areas, but it should never be in public safety,” Fasano said. “Never.”
The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which backed Alex Sink, has noted that even privatizing the system might not result in a $1 billion cut. The only way to do that, said PBA executive director David Murrell, would be to cut personnel or release prisoners early.
“The Department of Corrections has been cut and cut and cut and they’re to a point where it’s a safety issue,” Murrell said. “Mark my words, one of these days there’s going to be a bad incident. It’s gotten to that point where it’s that critical.”
Btw, the article states that the PBA is neither Democrat nor Republican having backed both parties at different times. They see Scott as soft on crime which is not a typical Republican position.
And the elevator continues to go down.