UPDATE: Scott administration moves forward with prison privatization despite court rulingby Dara Kam | November 3rd, 2011
UPDATE: Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford will hold a hearing at 4:30 p.m. today on the privatization lawsuit. The Florida Police Benevolent Association is asking for an emergency stay to stop the procurement process.
Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration has re-opened bids on privatizating prisons in an 18-county region in southern Florida despite a recent court ruling that the way lawmakers ordered the privatization plan is unconstitutional.
Scott opted not to appeal. But Attorney General Pam Bondi on Monday filed an appeal on behalf of the legislature challenging Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford’s ruling. That appeal opened the door for state Department of Corrections officials to re-open the bids, Department of Corrections officials said in a press release issued late Thursday.
Bids will be due within a week but because of the ongoing court battle “the agency will not sign a contract until the litigation is complete,” the release said.
The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which filed the lawsuit, intends to ask the First District Court of Appeals for an expedited hearing and is asking Fulford to reinstate the stay on the bids she previously ordered.
Boca Raton-based GEO Group is one of the contenders for the privatization plan intended to cost the state 7 percent less than what the department is currently spending on the region’s 29 prisons and other correctional operations.
Read the corrections department press release after the jump.
“On September 30, 2011, the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit entered an order declaring unconstitutional budget Provisio language requiring the Department of Corrections to privatize Region IV and enjoining the Department from taking further steps to implement the privatization procurement. On Monday, October 31, 2011, the Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal, which had the effect of staying the Circuit Court’s Order in accordance with Rule 9.310(b)(2), Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.
“Therefore, in order to comply with the now operative Proviso language, the Department has reopened the procurement process with proposals due Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. The Department will evaluate the proposals. However, out of respect for the ongoing litigation, the agency will not sign a contract until the litigation is complete.”