Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, recently proposed closing seven prisons across the state.
The proposed closures are a response to declining crime rates and a growing number of empty prison beds—an estimated 12,000 –16,000 extra beds, or about 14 percent of the overall capacity in the state.
The effect of these closures will be a more streamlined and efficient criminal justice budget in Florida, with fewer unnecessary operating costs to burden Florida taxpayers.
Some in Florida are concerned about local job losses if the prisons are closed. While some correctional jobs will of course be eliminated, it is only because they were unsustainable and unnecessary. The overall impact of downsizing the Florida prison system will be a stronger economy, fewer unnecessary state expenditures, more taxpayer dollars staying in citizens’ wallets, and a more efficient and effective criminal justice system. This stronger economy and decreased footprint for the state government in the criminal justice arena will encourage future job growth.
Prison closures are a step forward for many states across the country, and Florida is no exception.