Florida Holds Off on Private Prisons — For Now
Yesterday, Florida’s state senate defeated a bill which would have privatized twenty-six state-run prisons. Nine Republican senators voted with the Democrats. The vote was a victory for prison guards and other unionized prison employees, as well as for the prisoners themselves. For that matter, the vote was a huge victory for everyone who’s properly horrified by the prospect of a private corporation being able to imprison people for profit.
It was a defeat for the state’s largest private prison companies — the GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America, and Management and Training Corp. — and their favorite boy toy, Rick Scott, who had pushed for the bill.
If this bill had passed, 3,500 state prison employees would have lost their jobs and one fifth of the state’s prison inmates would have been turned over to a private prison company. Imagine having your life become just a number on a prison corporation’s balance sheet.
There’s one political casualty from yesterday’s vote: Republican state senator Mike Fasano spoke out against this bill before the vote. Senate president Mike Haridopolos retaliated by taking away Fasano’s chairmanship of the committee overseeing prison issues. Fasano said:
“I’ve been in the legislature for 18 years and I always have stood up for my conscience, and if it means me having to lose my chairmanship, I wear that as a badge of honor.”
And Florida senate president Mike Haridopolos is hereby anointed Cocksucker of the Week. In addition, let’s hope Haridopolos gets framed for something and does some hard time in one of these private prisons he’s so gung ho about.
Anyway, a crucial battle was won in yesterday’s Florida vote, but the war is still looming. The Corrections Corporation of America is on a huge lobbying bender in 48 states. For any state that’s facing a budget crisis — and what state isn’t? — Corrections Corporation of America is making a seductive offer. They want to purchase each state’s prison facilities in return for a twenty-year management contract. Pretty tempting, no? Invest YOUR sons and daughters in the lucrative Prison-Industrial Complex NOW.
In case you’re not creeped out enough already, the Corrections Corporation of America is also guaranteeing that their private prisons will be at least ninety percent full. Is it just me, or does that sound like a self-fulfilling prophecy?