Private or public, prison system can’t be a profit center

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
 

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This entry was posted in Corruption, Politics, Prison and Jails, Rural Poverty Program, The Journey, The Problem, Women and Children. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Private or public, prison system can’t be a profit center

  1. This is a powerful post and really hits home on the issue. I will be sharing this. On the news this morning, in the section entitled “Today in central FL history” CFNews13 did a piece about a particular jail expanding to include thousands more inmates, and how this was marked in “FL history” because it would bring an estimated 1 million $’s in revenue for that area. Depicted in the piece was one inmate, a long haired biker looking character sitting at a checker board/card table all alone in a stark white room full of similar tables and nothing else. Then, they showed the rows and rows of bunkbeds lined up tightly together as they spoke of the progress the community was making.

    I sat there stunned, that this was to be considered some kind of marked progress for us. More beds to fill, therefore, more legislation to pass in order to fill them. This is progress? It was truly disturbing to watch.

    I am preaching to the choir but I just have to spill it out a little. All of that money to build this expansion (and countless others) could have created programs and facilities to help the millions of addicts that will pass through the system…but from what I have experienced, drug rehabs are functioning on little to nothing and the counselors and nurses make nothing compared to what they could make elsewhere. Circles of Care just went through a budget cut so that they had to change the meds they offered to detox patients. It certainly is a system warped and out of control. This is to the tune of countless lives, when you look at the number of prison beds that are filled with addicts who are guilty of nothing except using drugs, and the families who are wrecked in the wake of this atrocity.

    On a slightly different note in a similar song, I have seen several fatal law enforcement shootings in the past few months, and in several cases I saw that the victim was unarmed. I follow CFNew13 and this is where all of this information is coming from. In one particular instance that stands out to me, the law enforcement officer shot the “perp” coming out of the woods when he refused to put his arms up in the air and kept walking. He wasn’t breaking any law, He didn’t have a knife or a gun, but he didn’t obey the officer’s orders and kept moving forward, and now he is dead. Investigations revealed that the officer followed protocol, fearing for his own life. They found no weapons on this homeless man. He was probably too high or just too mentally derragned to understand the orders being barked out at him behind the blinding flashing lights. I wonder what that officer really felt. Was it fear, or was he just plain ticked off that this guy refused to obey his orders? Either way, a man is dead, and it is all a part of the “protocol” of our law enforcement. It’s obvious of course, that things are way out of control and it’s all being brushed under the carpet and veiled by laws that allow injustice to be done to the poor.

    I know this is all the same old song and dance on this issue, but I will probably keep singing because it needs to be heard as much as possible. I can’t read all this and not be infuriated, how can anyone else?

    Maybe, no, probably, because not everyone is poor.

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