A plan by Republican gubernatorial Rick Scott to curtail state spending and create 700,000 new jobs includes slashing $1 billion from the prison budget by cutting salaries, reducing health care costs and expanding inmate-run vegetable farms, notes the Miami Herald. But people who know how the corrections system works call the Republican candidate for governor’s plan a “hoax” and a “shell game.” The Florida Department of Corrections is the nation’s third-largest prison system with more than 100,000 inmates in 139 facilities. Scott’s proposed cut represents more than a third of the agency’s $2.4 billion budget.
“We’re going to benchmark what other states are doing,” Scott said. “There’s things such as what Texas does. They have the prisoners grow their own food. You just look at the layers of management and things like that . . . We shouldn’t be more extensive than other states.” The Republican candidate’s cost-cutting ideas have sent shock waves through the prison work force at a time of near-record unemployment in Florida, especially for lower-income families who represent the vast majority of prison employees. “It would be devastating,” said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the prison system. “You would have to close prisons.”