A Florida judge has ruled that the state legislature improperly used budget language to order prisons to be privatized in 18 South Florida counties, and demanded that the project be stopped immediately, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford issued a strongly-worded, six-page decision that faulted lawmakers for a lack of transparency.
Fulford said legislators trampled on existing privatization law by ordering the Department of Corrections to seek proposals from private vendors to run 29 prisons and work camps. She found that the project violated state law because the agency failed to do a business-case study of the pros and cons of privatization before seeking proposals from vendors. The ruling emphasized that privatizing state prisons is allowed by law, but that the Legislature went about it the wrong way. It was a victory for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union for correctional officers, which filed suit in hopes of saving the jobs of several thousand correctional officers.