In Depth: State Corrections Boss On Prison Privatization


The mass privatization of prisons in the southern third of the state should at least temporarily stop the drive to hand prisons over to corporations, the head of the Department of Corrections said Tuesday.

“I think in terms of private prisons, this is as far as Florida should go,” said in an interview. “This wasn’t my decision, this wasn’t Gov. Scott’s decision, this was the Legislature’s decision.”

Buss talked about the privatization drive a day after the state released a request for proposals calling for a five-year contract with a single bidder to run 29 facilities associated with 11 South Florida correctional institutes. The privatization proposals are in line with the budget approved by the Legislature during its spring session, though one of the state’s main law enforcement unions has sued to try to block the move.

That contract should allow the state to assess how a widespread system of private prisons would work in comparison to public facilities, Buss said. That would include a look at how well private prisons work to reduce recidivism, one of Buss’ top goals as corrections secretary.

“This will provide some competition so that the public and private sector can go head-to-head,” he said. “But until — and it takes three to five years to get any meaningful data on recidivism — I wouldn’t recommend any future private prisons until we get the data and we see if it does actually work.”



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