Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Rick Scott Should Inspect FL Prisons...from the Inside"

Moving on with my list of reasons to dis-elect Rick Scott in November, we come to the topic of Corrections. That's ironic, because just yesterday I found a headline for this topic that pushed my list to 230 reasons -- just in time for this entry.

The big news from here is Scott's desire to please corporate donors by privatizing prison services (an example of the "pay to play" atmosphere his opponents refer to). At first he wanted to privatize all prisons in south Florida, but that plan fell through when it was realized how expensive it would be to pay off the vacation and sick time of employees laid off from the Department of Corrections as a result of that move.  So Scott settled for privatizing medical services, hiring two different companies for two different parts of the state, and you can see below that it was in good measure done with little in the way in ethics in mind.

Prison privatization has a very poor record of success. One website even collects stories about it, and you'd spend a few good afternoons reading them all. It's also a nonsensical idea: Why would you pay a middleman (especially one from out of state) to provide a service you can do yourself? Because it's cheaper? That's what the claim is, and it is said that this privatization will save us at least 7% on costs a year. But hold on there. The middleman has extra people who want a salary (like CEOs who make a million a year). So how can they provide the same services for less?

The  answer is that they don't. They cut services and staff to make up for the shortfall -- and that's exactly what's happening now in Florida. The horror stories are rife from states that have already tried this, and starting to grow in Florida. Arizona is the wost case right now. It's a state where both of the companies Florida hired have had a go. One failed and quit after a year. The other is now in charge and is reportedly doing even worse.

And if you think that saves taxpayers money, guess again. You actually end up paying for inmate medical care twice. You pay once through taxes, to pay these companies. Then you pay again when the inmates are released -- as most will be -- suffering from the same medical problems that the private companies neglected to take care of. Released inmates will  generally need social services, because most of them won't be able to get a high paying job out here. That means the taxpayer will foot the bill AGAIN when they show up at community health centers, or sign up for Medicaid -- or even turn back to crime to pay for their medical bills.

Scott is enabling a humanitarian crisis of his own here in Florida with these alleged cost saving measures. Unlike the much larger crisis on the border, however, this one happens in slow motion. And Scott knows it's easy to get away with, because many people, especially his Tea Party base, won't shed a tear over injury or death to a prison inmate.

That's the main news about Scott and prisons, but the most recent news is even more disturbing. Just in time to make this posting, I found a story about how problems with inmate abuse are growing, to the point that the feds are stepping in.Don't eat lunch before reading -- it will make you sick to your stomach, if you aren't already.

90) Rick Scott caused Florida to lose a talented leader for the Department of Corrections.

Scott’s first choice to head the Florida Department of Corrections was Edwin Buss, a talented reformer. Buss resigned from the position after only six months because he could not tolerate Scott’s policies.

91) Rick Scott ordered the privatization of prison medical services, handing contracts over to companies with an extended record of human rights violations.

Under the premise of saving money, contracts were handed to the private prison medical firms Wexford and Corizon. Both have dismal records for providing medical services, and each has been thrown out of multiple states and counties for providing inadequate care.

92) Rick Scott laid off prison medical workers as part of the process of privatization.

Wexford and Corizon pledged to employ most of the state employees in prison medical departments. Most were re-employed, but that is small comfort to those that were not, and who were thrown into one of the worst long term unemployment situations in the nation. Those that did receive jobs with the private companies were subjected to cuts in net pay, because of the greater expense of health insurance, and were also removed from state employment just before all other state employees received their first raise in six years.

93) Rick Scott tried to privatize all prison functions in South Florida.

Scott desired to turn prison functions over to a private company like Geo or Corrections Corporation of America. Like the medical companies, these companies also have an extended record of violations

94) Rick Scott achieved most of the prison health privatization by way of an unethical legislative and judicial “back door.”

The southern portion of Florida’s prison health departments were privatized and turned over to Wexford Health by way of a normal legislative process. But because the Legislature as whole would not approve the process for the whole state, Rick Scott, by way of his handpicked Corrections secretaries, resorted to a questionable back door method: The whole body of the Legislature was evaded, and the decision for the rest of the state was turned over to the select Legislative Budget Committee, so that a second company, Corizon, could be hired. Although a court eventually decided that the move was legal, this did not make it ethical: The fact that the normal legislative process was used to hire Wexford shows that Scott and corrections leaders were well aware of how the process was supposed to be done.

In addition, one objecting Republican member of the Committee, Mike Fasano, was kicked off the Committee to assure the results Scott wanted.

227) Rick Scott has enabled a culture of corruption in the Department of Corrections.

Clearly these issues began before Scott, under Crist, but Scott has allowed abuses of inmates to continue and grow. And Crist at least hired a reformer (McDonough) who temporarily cleaned up the mess.

No comments :

Post a Comment