Florida Considers Reopening Correctional Facilities

Nov 4, 2013

Credit Kate Ter Haar/Fickr

Florida might soon reopen several prisons, a year after closing them after the state projected a growing inmate population. Gov. Rick Scott announced the closing of prisons across the state as good news, saying it saved the state money.

But next year, the Department of Corrections wants the legislature to reopen nine facilities from Miami to the panhandle. That will include two prisons, five work camps and two reentry centers.

The Florida Criminal Justice Estimating Conference showed that the state's crime rate continues to decrease, but prison admissions are rising and are expected to increase by 2.7 percent next year.

That's about 1,000 new inmates, on top of the current estimate of about 101,000 incarcerated individuals.

Scott recently asked state agencies to cut spending by $100 million but the prison system alone wants $124 million to hire more officers, buy new buses and vans, and improve food services.

Critics of the Florida prison system say the state locks up too many nonviolent drug offenders, and should provide them with treatment instead.

Scott will decide whether to include the request to reopen the prisons in the budget that he will send to state lawmakers next year.