FL Legislators quietly dish no-bid, $3 million contract to private prison group

Miami Herald: FL Legislators quietly dish no-bid, $3 million contract to private prison group

Key Points:

  • [Department of Corrections Secretary Julie] Jones was determined not to share anything again with the private prison vendor [The Geo Group]  because I don’t want them to profit off of what we’re trying to do,” she told the Herald/Times in an April 2017 interview. But Florida legislative leaders had a different idea.
  • In March 2016, legislators approved $330,000 for The Geo Group to operate a pilot program to be run at Blackwater Correctional, using the ideas Jones said Uccello had developed for Florida’s state-run prison system. This year, lawmakers expanded the program to $3 million, with the money going exclusively to four of The Geo Group’s five private prisons in Florida — Bay, Moore Haven, South Bay, and Blackwater — “for the provision of enhanced in-prison and post-release recidivism reduction programs.”
  • “They got it with no competition and no guarantee of performance,” said Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, who has been a critic of the state’s failure to determine if the private prisons are saving tax money as required by law.
  • The Geo Group, based in Boca Raton, had at least 15 lobbyists registered in Florida last session and steered more than $1.1 million into the campaign committees of the governor and legislators in the 2016 election cycle.
  • [House Speaker Richard] Corcoran, who had been so upset by a $1 million no-bid contract for the entertainer Pit Bull that he sued the governor’s office, didn’t stop the Senate from using the budget to create a sole-source entitlement for The Geo Group.
  • And, after the budget was signed, The Geo Group wrote Corcoran’s political committee a $15,000 check June 26.