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A New Twist in FL's Private vs. Public Prisons Feud

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Monday, November 28, 2011   

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - When the Florida Legislature put a bill on Gov. Rick Scott's desk to partially privatize prisons, Department of Corrections officers filed a lawsuit to block it. A court ruled the new law unconstitutional, and the governor did not appeal.

In the Legislature, advocates for private prisons say they will continue to challenge that decision. Senate President Mike Haridopolos is leading the fight.

"I think that the courts did not make the right decision. That's the reason why we asked Attorney General Bondi to challenge it. We felt strongly that we put it in the sunshine, there was no doubt about it."

Thousands of corrections, probation and parole officers have opposed the move, wanting to preserve their state jobs and benefits. They have now voted to join the powerful Teamsters Union. Union general president Jim Hoffa has told Florida corrections personnel the union will stand firm against what it sees as "selling out" state prisons to for-profit operators.

Hoffa has made it clear that his union is glad to be a part of the Florida private-prison dispute.

"It's a great day for the Teamsters Union and FDOC officers. These are tough times, and they wanted a tough union to represent them. They wanted the power that comes with being the Teamsters Union and being a Teamster. This is 'Teamster Power.'"

The legal entanglements and the new presence of the Teamsters Local 2022 on the scene will likely tie up any move to privatize Florida prisons, at least in the near future.




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