Fla. Prison Privatization Questioned

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A small group of politically influential companies could be awarded a contract worth millions of dollars in a legislative effort to privatize Floridasprisonhealthcare services, according to reports.
The new budget plan to which House and Senate negotiators recently agreed allows one vendor to bid on boththe healthcare andprison privatization services of 18 South Florida counties. Health services in the rest of the state would be bid out separately.
The budgetplan also combines all of the prison systems drug purchases into one major state contract.
Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander said he did not believe combining South Floridas healthcare and prison privatization services in one contract was intended to benefit just one company, and that the contract could be awarded to one company or to many companies.
Three private prison operators with lobbyists in the capitol manage Floridas seven privately-run prisons. GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla. operates two of the prisons and four of the states seven mental health facilities. Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America runs four prisons, and Utah-based Management Training Corp. runs one.
The GEO Group, which also provides healthcare services through its subsidiary, GEO Care, gave $714,000 to Florida politicians during elections last year.