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Judge to rule soon on privatizing prison health services suit

Judge Kevin Carroll 0529.JPG
Sascha Cordner

A Leon Circuit Judge is expected to rule soon on a challenge by several unions to block a plan to privatize the state’s prison health care services, which could leave thousands of state employees out of a job.  The judge heard oral arguments in Tallahassee Tuesday.

The Florida Nurses Association is suing the state to stop the privatization of prison health services. The union’s lawyer Steve Turner argued just last year, a Leon Circuit Judge ruled that the way the Legislature put a provision into the budget to privatize prisons in South Florida is unconstitutional.

"That’s what we’re talking about here because the procurement was taken because of an invalid proviso,” said Turner.

But, Jon Glogau with the Attorney General’s Office says there’s nothing invalid about it.

“The only thing we have in this case is the Legislature saying ‘we have a judge hole in the budget, and one way we’re going to fill that hole is we’re going to contract with a private entity.’”

Leon Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll is expected to make his decision this week or next week. But, he says he knows no matter his decision, he expects an appeal will be filed.