Florida Department of Corrections

Florida could soon be faced with another union lawsuit over plans to privatize inmate health care services. The move comes after a legislative budget panel Wednesday approved a funding request from the Department of Corrections to help the effort move forward.  The union called that illegal, and says it could now cost about 3,000 state employees their jobs.

A legislative budget panel is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss whether to approve a request by the Department of Corrections to pay two private prison companies to take over health care services in Florida’s prisons. But, if the request is approved, a state employee union is poised to take the matter to court.

An effort by the state to privatize Florida’s inmate health care services could still be on hold, even after a Leon Circuit Judge recently rejected a motion to reconsider a case that could have blocked the effort.

In early July, Leon Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll had previously dismissed the case because the budget provision that let the state privatize inmate health care services had already expired.

Sascha Cordner

A part of the state budget that would have privatized health care services in Florida’s prisons has expired, but the Department of Corrections is moving forward with the plan saying they have the authority to do so even without the expired provision. It was challenged in the courts before, but, two unions are calling on a trial judge to weigh in again, before thousands of state employees are out of a job.

The head of the state’s prison system is seeking a new job, and he could be leaving as early as October. While Ken Tucker would be the second Florida Department of Corrections chief to leave during Governor Rick Scott’s term so far, he has the Governor’s blessing to do so.

Governor Rick Scott appointed Tucker as the Department of Corrections Secretary at the end of August of last year. Before coming to work at the department, Scott plucked Tucker from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where he worked for close to 30 years.

Sascha Cordner

Two unions, upset the state is moving ahead with plans to privatize prison health services, are asking a judge to rule on a case he previously dismissed. They say if the judge does not issue a decision soon, they fear 2,800 state employees will be out of a job.

The Department of Corrections is looking into an inmate death that happened over the weekend. That death resulted from an earlier beating at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in north Florida. As Sascha Cordner reports, the case is under investigation by the department’s Inspector General as well as the State Attorney’s Office.

The Department of Corrections is deciding how to proceed after a judge ruled the department must award an electronic monitoring contract to a different vendor. As Sascha Cordner reports, the court’s decision is the result of a dispute between two companies that specialize in tracking offenders through GPS ankle bracelets.

Last month, a union representing Florida’s prison nurses filed a lawsuit to block the privatization of inmate health care services in the Department of Corrections. Now, as Sascha Cordner reports, two labor unions have jumped on the bandwagon, and filed a similar lawsuit of their own.

Pregnant women who are inmates in Florida’s jails have been forced to go through labor and even delivery in handcuffs and shackles.  James Call reports a bill moving through the legislature would prohibit using restraints on most prisoners who are pregnant during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery.

Tampa Representative Betty Reed is the mother of five. Rather than rely on her own experience she said she went and talk to many women about giving birth.

A union that represents thousands of nurses and other health care workers in Florida is suing to stop the privatization of Florida’s prison health care services. Sascha Cordner has more...