Rick Scott Privatized, Inmates Died
October 18, 2014

Florida Governor (and naked mole rat lookalike winner) Rick Scott tried to privatize the state's prison system in 2011. Fortunately, he was beat back by the unions and the privatization scheme failed.

Undaunted, Scott did the next worst thing he could - he privatized the prisons' health care system.

He rewarded the five-year, $1.2 billion contract to a company call Corizon, despite the fact that Corizon has been sued 660 times in the last five years for malpractice.

The results of the privatization deal were very predictable and very sad:

In January 2014, three months after the privatization was fully implemented, the number of inmates who died "shot to a 10-year high," says the Post. In the past 10 years, there were only 10 months in which 30 or more inmates died. So far this year, the death count has "topped 30 a total of four times in just seven months." This is a dramatic increase from 12.5 percent to 57 percent. The investigation also found that the number of referrals for outside hospital care is down by 47 percent compared to 2012.

How did this happen? In his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, candidate Scott promised to cut prison funding by $1 billion. "Privatization isn't necessary for us to achieve that goal, but nothing is off the table," Scott's spokesperson Brian Burgess said. True enough, the Florida Corrections Department soon sent out a request for proposal for prison health care services. Underbidding the competitors, Corizon argued that it could provide the current quality of care, but for seven percent less.

As the privatization process moved forward, 1,890 state employees received a dismissal letter reading, in part, "Due to the outsourcing of this function, your position will be deleted." As far as Corizon was concerned, there were some snags along the way. But $415,000 spent on lobbying the state legislature between 2011 and 2013 might have gone some way toward ironing them out.

As if there weren't enough reasons already to vote the naked mole rat out.

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