California prison officials are surveying inmates to see how many might be interested in serving their time out of state, says the Sacramento Bee. A Florida company that has contributed $90,000 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it would be happy to accommodate them. California has reached a prison overcrowding crisis, with 16,000 of the system’s 172,000-plus inmates sleeping in gyms, dayrooms, and classrooms. Director James Tilton says the state will run out of bed space by June 2007, when it would be forced to stop accepting inmates from counties — 32 of which are already suffering severe overcrowding problems of their own.
One private prison company, the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fl., has expressed interest in housing California inmates at its facilities in Michigan, Indiana, and Louisiana. GEO operates four private prisons in California. GEO has contributed $90,300 to Schwarzenegger going back to 2003. Besides GEO, five other private prison companies have responded to the corrections department’s request for information on available prisoner space. There were 39 responses from facilities with 12,632 available beds. A GEO lobbyist predicted inmates will welcome the transfer opportunity. “You pull a bus up in the next 30 to 60 days and a whole bunch of folks would be willing to jump on it,” he said.