Florida legislators are poised to make dramatic changes to the state's prison system, turning over as many as 14 prisons to private companies in hopes of saving money, says the Miami Herald. Fundamental questions remain unanswered. Do private prisons really save Florida taxpayers money? If so, how much cheaper are they?
Florida has been experimenting with private prisons for 16 years, with almost 10 percent of the state's 102,000 inmates held in seven private facilities. A state agency that oversees these prisons says they will save taxpayers almost $90 million over three years. State financial analysts say they cannot show with any certainty how much money they save over state-run prisons. While the benefits of prison privatization may be hard to see, the arrangement has been marred by mismanagement by state monitors , lax contracts, overbilling by prison contractors, a corruption investigation, and a legal loophole that allowed sexual misconduct in private facilities to go unpunished.