Never in all the writings have I ever seen anyone catch the heart of the issues surround this insane and unsustainable mess called the Florida prison system. This is one article I would make mandatory reading for every citizen in the state of Florida.
Then I would go back and put names and organizations that have been the prime movers in the evolution of this mess.
“…It would be madness for Florida to mass privatize the state prison system. It also would be madness if Florida didn’t change the state prison system, and the legal system that feeds it…”
Randy Schultz has captured the issues, truth and depth of the scandal. “…North of Orlando, prisons long have been economic development. Two of the toughest prisons are across the river from each other in Union and Bradford counties northeast of Gainesville, where they are the local economy. A high school education could get you hired as a prison guard, which beat most other jobs in rural counties that tourism and subdivisions missed. Almost half of Florida’s 67 counties have fewer people than Boynton Beach’s 69,000.
For a very long time, imprisonment was a growth industry. Those in charge doled out jobs, and the Legislature kept the inmates flowing. In the early 1980s, the Legislature took away most judicial discretion by setting sentencing guidelines. In the mid-1980s, when crack cocaine arrived, the Legislature made drug sentences mandatory even for users. That rush forced early releases of violent inmates, which led to outrage and a prison-building boom. Next came the law that inmates serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, and more minimum-mandatory sentences….”
What brought the entire issue to a rolling boil was “…So now Florida is closing prisons. The system has 112,000 beds for about 100,000 inmates, and is opening another 4,000 beds. This is the public profiteering. Both the DOC and the private companies – which already run seven prisons, including one in South Bay – have a vested interest in filling cells….”
Lost in the entire debate are the lives that have been trashed in the process. Lost in the debate are the children who will never get off of the starting blocks in life because their parents were sent to prison to meet the jobs programs and profit lines as well as the political aspirations of those who distance themselves the consequences of their actions.
Private or public, prison system can’t be a profit center