March 30, 2011- As reported in today's Herald, the Florida Senate on Monday "quietly inserted language into its newly proposed budget… that seeks to give corporations a chance to run correctional facilities in 16 counties." These corrections contracts are worth some $600 million.
Though this "quiet insertion" was accomplished by Republicans — led by J.D. Alexander, the state's Senate budget chief from Lake Wales and presumably overseen by Jeff Atwater, Florida's chief financial officer — not all GOPers are happy. The Herald quotes Mike Fasano, of the Senate's Criminal Justice Appropriations Comittee, who'd already recommended against the privatization of Florida's prisons:
We made it clear we weren't interested. We moved on without doing it… And now it appears in the budget. I'm not pleased. It's a huge, substantive issue. It's a major policy change, and it should at least have been discussed publicly.
The Herald also mentions one of the leading candidates to win the $600 million contracts, the notorious, human-rights-abusing GEO Group Inc., but neglects to elaborate on the nature of that company. Turns out, GEO Group used to be Wackenhut — one of the largest private security companies in the world and a genuine home-grown Floridian phenomenon — and two of its three Floridian board members really, really like contributing to the campaigns of Floridian Republicans.