Tallahasse, FL (PRWEB) February 01, 2012
On Tuesday, 17 non-profit and religious organizations issued a joint letter opposing efforts by the leadership of the Florida Senate to pass legislation that would turn 27 state correctional facilities over to private, for-profit companies. The prison privatization plan constitutes an "unprecedented expansion" that has not been attempted in any other state and would result in the termination of approximately 3,800 state corrections employees, according to the Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based non-profit and a signatory to the letter.
The joint letter indicates that opposition to the proposed legislation, SB2038, is far broader than objections by labor unions that represent the state employees who will lose their jobs should the bill pass.
The signatories to the letter include the ACLU of Florida, Advocare, Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), Critical Resistance, Florida Justice Institute, Human Rights Defense Center, In the Public Interest, Justice Strategies, National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc., Ohio Justice Policy Center, Private Corrections Institute, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, The Sentencing Project, Southern Center for Human Rights, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, United Church of Christ/Justice and Witness Ministries, and United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society.
A number of religious denominations, including the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA and the Catholic Bishops, have issued resolutions or policy statements opposing prison privatization on moral and faith-based grounds.
The organizations signing the joint letter, which was addressed to Senate President Mike Haridopolos, cited other issues of concern with expanding prison privatization in Florida, "including the dubious cost saving claims, efficiency in correctional management, and the impact on public safety."
Rather than try to achieve cost savings through privatization when such savings have not been proven, the organizations recommended that "changes to sentencing and parole policy can directly result in stabilizing Florida's prison population and result in the cost avoidance of anticipated correctional expenditure growth." The letter cites examples in New York, Michigan, Kansas and New Jersey where prison populations, and thus prison costs, were reduced through policy reforms.
"This letter, with participation by 17 organizations on both the state and national level, both from the secular and faith communities, demonstrates there is broad opposition to efforts to privatize dozens of prisons in Florida, which would benefit private prison companies at the expense of state workers and taxpayers," said Alex Friedmann, president of the Private Corrections Institute.
The prison privatization bill was debated today on the Senate floor and postponed; it is expected to be taken up again by the Senate on Wednesday, February 1.
"I urge all Florida citizens who are concerned about a giveaway of state resources and taxpayer money to private companies to contact their Senators to oppose this legislation," Friedmann stated. "SB2038 is an ill-advised bill that will have far-reaching consequences for the public."
The Private Corrections Institute (PCI) is a non-profit citizen watchdog organization that works to educate the public about the significant dangers and pitfalls associated with the privatization of correctional services. PCI maintains an online collection of news reports and other resources related to the private prison industry, and holds the position that for-profit prisons have no place in a free and democratic society. For more information: http://www.privateci.org.