Been thinking about why they were closing all these prisons and have come to the conclusion that what has happened is the state of Florida read the ‘tea leaves’ wrong and overbuilt the number of prisons required.
Yes, they do have excessive prison space and that is simply because they have built too many beds and now they are going to have to put the best face possible on the situation. The spin takes too forms.
First and foremost is that they are doing a good job fighting crime because the crime rate in Florida has been steadily decreasing. This is in fact true that the violent crime rate in Florida has been steadily decreasing. But what is not said is that violent crime in the state of Florida has not only been above that of the USA but has followed every trend and pattern of that of the USA for 50 years but been above that of the USA as a hole.
The second pointis that there has been a decrease in DOC admission with a parallel over building of prisons by 3,000 beds in Lowell and Suwannee annexes alone. Essentially they have two facilities to fill and the only way to do it and stay in budget is to close enough prisons on the first round to fill the new prisons with inmates and staff. This they will do and the operation should be complete by May/June.
Cost savings: The only way I can see a projected savings is not to fill the auxiliary staff functions of education, rehab and etc. in the new facilities. You can see a similar modus operand in some of the new prisons that are lacking such staffs and programs that are in older prisons.
My guess is the down trend in admisions is a product of two forces at play that caught the powers to be by surprise. First is a lot of the drug offenders that were a majority of the admissions have been diverted by a growth in programs such as Drug Court which have grown as a part of the Second Chance Act and similar programs. Second is that the decrease in the overall crime stats has a spin off in reoffenders.
The state and unions are in a dog and pony fight that overlooks the over building because they are trying to set the stage for act 2 which is the privatization struggle coming in the later part of this legislative session.
Not all that long ago, E. T. York, Chancellor Emeritus of the State University System pointed out that Florida holds on a national level, 5th place in spending on police protection, 40th place in spending for K-12 education; and 50th place in spending for higher education.
When compared to the nation as a whole, it is readily apparent that the state of Florida is failing its citizens in the realm of public safety and education. Added to the equation is the fact that the state of Florida has a higher incarceration ratio than that of the USA and the USA has a higher incarceration ratio than any country of of the world.
Think in terms of the USA having 5 percent of the worlds population and 25 percent of the incarcerated population.