The state of Florida will soon privatize 30 prisons to save money, but before that, taxpayers will be on the hook for a payout of up to $25 million.
That’s how much the Department of Corrections says it will cost to pay more than 4,000 displaced state corrections workers for their accumulated vacation time, sick leave and special compensatory time for working on holidays.
The hidden expense was never discussed in public last spring when the Legislature pushed ahead with the most ambitious privatization venture in the history of state government.
Now, the prison system — already coping with a series of budget cuts — is forced to find the money.
“It’s a liability,” said Dan Ronay, the agency’s No. 2 official. “I don’t think anyone can keep running a business if you don’t know what you’re on the hook for.”
A top advisor to Gov. Rick Scott voiced similar concerns.
Bonnie Rogers, who oversees criminal justice spending in Scott’s budget office, told Ronay in an e-mail May 13: “We too have concerns with how this will be managed.”
Ronay had told Rogers in a previous e-mail, “This amount was NOT taken into consideration by the Legislature, even though they were made aware ... This payout may just cripple the agency for next [fiscal year].”
The e-mail was first obtained by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union for correctional officers. The PBA has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the privatization.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011