Florida’s Bloated Prison System Will Cost Billions To Maintain
Florida’s crumbling prison system and aging prison population will cost the state billions to maintain, according to a newly released report commissioned by the state.
A report presented to Florida state lawmakers on Wednesday by the firm KPMG says that Florida will have to pay somewhere between $6 billion and $12 billion over the next 20 years to keep its troubled Department of Corrections (DOC) afloat.
KPMG presented lawmakers with three different options, from most-expensive to least-expensive, to “modernize,” “manage,” or “mitigate” its prison system. According to the report, the Florida prison population is projected to swell from nearly 89,000 people to at least 107,000 by 2042. As it stands, KPMG found that 25 DOC facilities were in “poor” condition, and 16 were in “critical” condition.
Regardless of which option legislators choose, the price tag includes over $580 million for new air conditioning systems (75 percent of Florida state prisons do not have air conditioning), $2.2 billion for immediate repairs, and $200 million to $700 million a year to increase staffing. All three of the proposals include building at least one new prison and two new prison hospitals.
“The findings in the report confirm what lawmakers in both parties and Department of Corrections leadership have been saying for years, which is that the state prison system is in crisis and unsustainable,” says Greg Newburn, the director of criminal justice at the Niskanen Center, says.
The Florida Legislature is now tasked with solving a problem of its own making. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Florida passed tough mandatory minimum sentencing laws that resulted in thousands of low-level and first-time offenders being sentenced to decades in prison. That prison population is now getting older and much more expensive to care for. Nearly a third of incarcerated people in Florida prisons are 50 or older.
This leads not only to ballooning health car
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