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Defying Legislature’s Rejection, Gov. Scott Says He’ll Look to Privatize Prisons Anyway

| February 17, 2012

He doesn't need the Legislature.

Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he will explore opportunities to privatize state prisons on his own following the Senate’s defeat of a bill that would have required some prisons be bid out to private companies.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning after a public event on insurance fraud, Scott acknowledged that initially he didn’t consider privatizing prisons a priority, but was disappointed the Senate voted down a bill that would have done that, and said he’ll explore what many backers of the Senate plan said was a possibility – that the governor could order privatization unilaterally.

“It wasn’t something that was one of my legislative session priorities this year, but here’s what I think about it,” Scott said. “I got elected to hold government accountable, to not waste taxpayers’ money. So here was an opportunity that the Senate had to give us the opportunity to save a significant amount of money….. I’m disappointed the Senate didn’t do that. I’m going to look at what I have the opportunity to do. …I’m going to make sure that we don’t waste money.”

Scott pointed out that there are fewer inmates than anticipated and that it didn’t make sense to spend state dollars on half-full prisons.

“Why wouldn’t we save that money and put the money into education, into textbooks, and to make sure we have the right health care safety net instead of spending the money where we don’t need to?” Scott said.

The Senate earlier this week voted 21-19 against a bill that would have required privatization of most of the prison facilities in an 18-county area from roughly Tampa Bay south. The bill would have required prison operators to guarantee savings of $16.5 million a year immediately in order to get the bid, though many opponents said they didn’t believe the savings would materialize.

A coalition of senators from both parties, including those who represent lots of prison guards, to those who said they didn’t trust the savings figures, to those who said they worried about turning over a critical safety function to the private sector, opposed the bill, which was a top priority of the Republican leadership in the Senate.

Scott’s jump into the controversy – after months of refusing to answer directly what his position was on the idea – drew immediate criticism from the opponents of privatization, including the union that currently represents most state corrections officers.

“The Senate reflected the will of the citizens of Florida when it voted to kill prison privatization,” said Ken Wood, acting president of Teamsters Local 2011, which represents about 20,000 correctional officers in the state. “Floridians do not want the rules changed so private companies can get secret contracts with no cost-benefit analysis and no public review.”

The House never got a chance to vote on the issue.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said Thursday when asked what he thought about Scott taking the lead on the issue that he would defer to the governor and if Scott pursued it, he would likely support him.

“That’s totally his call,” Cannon said. “I’ve said that my personal view is that privatization is one component of reconfiguring our criminal justice system asset. It’s not a panacea … But the bill died in the Senate, so I think as a legislative matter it’s dead. I would defer entirely to him if he chooses to pursue it, I would be inclined to respect his judgment.”

–David Royce, News Service of Florida

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21 Responses for “Defying Legislature’s Rejection, Gov. Scott Says He’ll Look to Privatize Prisons Anyway”

  1. Kevin says:

    Isn’t that a cuddly cute picture of Skeletor? His blue eyes are so charming and sincere looking. haha!

  2. Layla says:

    Don’t have a problem with him looking into it.

  3. Layla says:

    How can you reject his judgement without seeing what he comes up with?

    • Criminals lie, thieves lie, Glow is a criminal thief, Glow lies.

      I reject the judgement of criminal thieves just as quickly as it comes out of their mouths.
      I predict that Glow will serve time in prison for his actions as a one term governor.

  4. Nancy N says:

    Once again, Rick Scott proves he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “no”.

    I think Rick’s primary problem is that he thought when he was elected Governor that it would make him master of all he surveys, just like when he was a CEO of a company. He thought that he would just be the master of a bigger company, with more people to do his bidding!

    He has consistently failed to understand that we the voters are the boss. He answers to us. Oh, and to the Constitution…another “little” thing that he has chosen to ignore while he goes about trying to make his rich friends richer.

    Privatizing prisons provides financial incentive to infringe the civil liberties of our state’s residents – both the ones convicted of crimes and the ones that the prison companies have yet to turn into customers. Because in a state with private prisons…we are all just potential “customers” for companies like CCA and Geo to get rich by locking up. That should NEVER be allowed to be the case!

    No one has mentioned the inherent conflict in protecting inmates’ rights in private prisons that have a financial interest in keeping people locked up. Most Florida inmates are eligible to receive gain time awards of 10 days every month, until they’ve earned a total reduction of 15% off of their sentence. Gain time is awarded by prison staff – who in private prisons have a financial incentive to actually withhold gain time or take it away during disciplinary proceedings because it keeps inmates in custody longer and keeps the facility full.

  5. Anita says:

    Let me get this straight: a duly elected Senate, “reflecting the will of the citizens of Florida”, voted against privatization of prisons, but Governor Scott will ignore them and order privatization UNILATERALLY!? If he is successful, why do we need a Florida Legislature at all? Why not suspend it, change his title to Dictator Scott and save money on all of those government salaries, including “Lick Spittle”, er House Speaker Dean Cannon who is as useful as a rubber stamp from Staples.

    And speaking of saving the taxpayer money, “privatizing” is another way of saying “For Profit”. In a for profit prison, are the prisoners expected to pay for their room and board? Guaranteed savings of $16.5 million? I’ll bet the check’s already in the mail!

  6. palmcoaster says:

    Now, he no longer has his mentor and protector in the White House. Can we have our Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI reopen the investigation of Rick Scott’s Columbia HCA billionaire fraud against Medicare and do him justice and send him to jail, where he belongs? A recall won’t be necessary then!.

  7. Layla says:

    Kinda reminds you of Obamacare, doesn’t it?

    • kinda reminds me of what adolph hitler started to do in the mid 30s before WWII.
      And yes I am comparing Glow Scott to hitler, both cut from the same cloth.
      We all know quite well what no opposition to hitler’s decrees led to.
      Here Glow even tells his own party member “eff you I am das goverenator”

    • Anita says:

      @ Layla

      Only if you think Prison Privatization will:
      1) End health care providers abuse, treating prisoners regardless of pre-existing conditions;

      2) Keep prisoner’s premiums low saving the taxpayer money (I also have a gorgeous bridge with a lovely view that you can add to your portfolio for a steal);

      3) Enable more and more people to qualify for medical and dental care ( I suppose that’s ONE reason for getting yourself sentenced to jail), and

      4)Saving senior inmates on their prescription drugs,

      Only then, can you call this similar to Obama Cares, or better yet, Scott Cares (NOT!)

  8. Does anyone have a current figure on how much tax money Glow has pocketed
    since arriving in Tallahassee?

  9. sly fox says:

    this is just another way for the private sector to make money & I bet Scott has his hands all in this, one has to wonder how much money he gains to receive. If this happens, the prisons will fall to disrepair because the “private sector” wont keep proper maintenance & that will come back to us taxpayers….this could be a long nightmare

  10. Colleen Walsh Conklin via Facebook says:

    Donald with all due respect – should someone be making a profit on the backs of kids or even prisoners? Those profits would be cuts put back into a statewide budget. How about building a road or bridge for the good and safety of the traveler? Do you really want someone cutting corners to make a profit? Those are my tax dollars – I’m not interested in someone making a profit off of them no matter what the service is. I’m definitely not interested in someone making a profit on my tax dollars with NO ACCOUNTABILITY. Again – there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY for our tax dollars with all of these schemes. I don’t mean to be disrespectful I just don’t get the logic. I’m all for a business making a profit with their own investment dollars but don’t use our tax dollars to support your venture. This is not capitalism. I’m not even sure what you’d call it. Seems reckless!

  11. Tom Brown via Facebook says:

    The fix is in. If a contractor is going to make a 10 or 20 percent profit on a smaller corrections budget, then that means fewer guards and/or fewer inmate “frills,” like effective rehab programs, psych treatment, etc.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    He is suuuuch a crook the Governor!

  13. jespo says:

    Scott is an out of touch Governor and an in touch wanker. Privatizing the penal system is a losing proposition financially and morally, security measures would take a back seat to profit minded measures, and worst of all, the state’s citizen’s would suffer the consequences.

  14. John Boy says:

    Corrections Corporation of America was Scott’s biggest campaign contributor, this is simply another payback (Kickback, bribe, whatever). Why should we “give” the billions of dollars we have paid for in prison construction and maintenance to a private company to run for a profit. The answer is simply, Scott is a crook, has always been a crook and will always be a crook. The simple answer is to put him in jail, then investigate all of his dealings going back to HCA, He can’t be put on trial because he already “owns” all the Judges and Prosecutors.

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