TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A group with strong ties to business interests is urging Florida lawmakers to turn three new prisons over to private operators who will provide substance abuse and mental health treatment.
The proposal Tuesday by the Florida Smart Justice Alliance drew opposition from public employee unions representing guards and other prison workers. They questioned the safety of private prisons and claimed cost savings.
The debate took place in front the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which took no immediate action.
The Smart Justice proposal calls for diverting nonviolent felons to prisons the state has built but never used because Florida's crime rate has fallen in recent years.
The group contends providing these inmates with treatment before they are released would help prevent them from committing new crimes and returning to prison.