The NAACP and employees with the Department of Corrections spoke out against the Legislature’s renewed efforts to privatize state prisons during a press conference at the capitol today.
This afternoon, the Florida Senate will take another stab at passing legislation that would privatize 27 prisons in the state. The controversial legislation has been quickly pushed through the Senate by leaders and has received very public criticism from labor groups, corrections workers and even a handful of Republican senators.
One of the most vocal opponents of the state’s plans, state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, was removed from a committee chairmanship by Senate President Mike Haridopolos in the wake of the bill’s near failure on the Senate floor almost two weeks ago.
Fasano introduced an amendement on the floor that would have struck out the entire bill and compelled the state to put together a fiscal analysis on the impact of privatization. Fasano has said publicly that the Legislature is failing to provide proper financial analyses of privatization’s impact. He claimed that Senate leaders were bypassing necessary committees in an effort to “rush” legislation so that “private prison companies can add to their profits.”
Dale R. Landry, the Florida State Conference NAACP chairman of the criminal and juvenile justice committee, said today that the Legislature is putting profits before citizens.
“Why does our Legislature continue to push for privatization?” Landry asked. “Look at contributions.”
A campaign watchdog reported two weeks ago that private prison groups have donated about $1 million to state lawmakers.
Landry said leaders were looking for “redemption of their investments.”
Corrections workers have long warned that prison privatization would threaten public safety and put corrections employees out of work. They have also claimed that private prison companies use inferior training and policies for their employees, and cut corners to save money.