FL Senator Talks Private Prisons
State Senate President Mike Haridopolos is ready to help Governor Rick Scott make major cuts to the state budget- including the prison system.
In less than a month Haridopolos will lead the senate into the next regular session-- potentially filled with conflict over what to cut from the budget.
As a part of that, Haridopolos is siding with the governor's plan to privatize part of the corrections system.
"We have to look at the long term as to whats in the best interest of the entire state," said Haridopolos who added, some state jobs will be cut, specifically in the move to private prisons, which have been recommended by the governor, but a controversial issue with state employees.
"If you move to private prisons, you save at least 7% in the operating costs, and that frees up money for education, health care and transportation," said Haridopolos.
"I think it's an insult," said Brandon Kutner, president of the North-Central Florida Chapter of the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
According to Kutner, about a third of the 36,000 state employees represented by the PBA are Department of Corrections and state Law Enforcement Officers.
"Now they're looking at losing their jobs to be replaced with, what amounts to a convenience store clerk, being asked to run a prison, these are trained professionals who have dedicated their lives to this kind of service and it's just a slap in the face to cut the bottom line," said Kutner.
Part of Haridopolos's plan in cutting the state's corrections budget, includes increasing the case load on probation and parole officers, an area of corrections that Kutner says is already saturated.
"You already have probationers not being contacted by their probation officers because they're just too many parolees, too many probation's, and not enough, this is just adding to an already desperate situation in corrections in the state of Florida," said Kutner.
Haridopolos says those realities are going to be difficult to reconcile with the budget realities lawmakers face.
"First and foremost, we have to make the tough cuts, see where you're at and then progress from there."
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