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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Do private prisons really save the state money?



Florida lawmakers are poised to make dramatic changes to the state's prison system, turning over as many as 14 prisons to private companies in hopes of trimming the cost of housing the state's criminals.

But as the Legislature moves aggressively to expand the reach of private prisons, fundamental questions remain unanswered. Such as: Do private prisons really save Florida taxpayers money? And if so, how much cheaper are they?

Florida has been experimenting with private prisons for 16 years, with almost 10 percent of the state's 102,000 inmates now held in seven private facilities.

The state agency that oversees these prisons says they will save taxpayers almost $90 million over the next three years. But state financial analysts say they cannot show with any certainty how much money they save over state-run prisons.

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[Last modified: Sunday, April 24, 2011 5:33pm]


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