Barney Bishop Consulting

Barney Bishop Consulting is a strategic public affairs firm with deep roots and experience in the state of Florida. Our core philosophy and mission is to serve our clients with integrity, effective advocacy and consistent results. With more than 30 years of state consulting experience, we work to maximize results for our clients.

Breaking News

State hopes to privatize more work release centers

-from the Tampa Bay Times, June 22

The leaders of Florida’s prison system believe work release is one of the best ways to help inmates succeed in the outside world.

But funding the nation’s third-largest prison system has been challenging in recent years given state budget woes. To save money, the state has turned a quarter of Florida’s 32 work release facilities over to private operators, such as Goodwill Industries-Suncoast.

Six more could become private by year’s end — saving taxpayers $4.4 million, according to Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews.

Prison officials say it’s not just about the money. They believe local organizations have expertise that state government doesn’t.

Crews, in an interview earlier this year, said that even though correctional officers are hard-working and professional “they don’t have the expertise in job placement” compared to local groups with networks of community contacts.

But keeping down costs is clearly part of the state’s work release strategy. The department’s average per-inmate cost is $42.24 per day. Work release centers averaged $29.29 per inmate per day. The lower cost is “primarily due to reduced need for security and support staff, inmate responsibility for personal and health care costs and inmate employment in the community during the day,” according to state bid documents. During the fiscal year that ended May 31, Goodwill was being paid $21.36 per inmate per day.

The state is now seeking bidders to take over work release centers at a cost “not to exceed $21 per day.”

Barney Bishop of the Smart Justice Alliance said he believes privatization is good because “99 times out of 100 the private sector is going to do better than the public sector.”

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