Groups speak out against prison privatization ahead of final state Senate vote

By | 01.31.12 | 1:40 pm

A scene from today's press conference (Pic by Ashley Lopez)

Labor groups, corrections employees and legislators held a press conference today denouncing the state’s plan to privatize prisons.

There is a final floor vote this afternoon on a bill that would privatize prisons in some regions of the state. Opponents of the measure have denounced the breakneck pace at which the Legislature has moves this legislation along. They have also warned about the effect the move would have on the salaries and benefits of corrections workers and public safety.

During the press conference today, state Sens. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray, joined a coalition fighting the Senate privatization bill.

Fasano said he was there to “support the working people of the state,” warning that 4,000 Florida families “will not know if they have a job tomorrow” if the Senate passes the bill.

“This is bad policy at the wrong time,” he said. He also noted that the public has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on creating these prisons and that turning them over to private companies is “not the way we should be doing business.”

Sachs said “our government is not for sale and neither should our prisoners.”

There are reports that today’s vote will be close. Several floor amendments have been filed — including one introduced by Fasano that deletes the entire bill and mandates a study on the impact of the privatization. Fasano tells The Florida Independent he hopes his colleagues will pass his amendment.

A campaign finance watchdog group yesterday released a report highlighting that Florida lawmakers have received about $1 million from private prison groups — the entities that have most to gain from the legislation the Senate will vote on today.

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