View Petition here:

http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/FL_youth_private_prisons/

New York, NY —ColorOfChange.org, the nations'slargest online civil rights organization, demands that the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) stop contracting with dangerous and corrupt for-profit prison companies.

Despite the well-documented failures of private prisons, Florida continues to lead the country in wasting taxpayer money to line the pockets of private companies. In fact, 100% of Florida's youth prison system, with a budget of $183 million, is controlled by companies like Youth Services International (YSI), G4S, and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), all of which have horrific track records of sexual abuse, unethical business practices, increased violence, and grave human rights violations. Annual quality assurance reviews are supposed to help the state decide if it will renew its private prison contracts, but private prison lobbyists have corrupted the process.

The campaign calls on outgoing FDJJ Secretary Wansley Walters to cancel and not renew any contracts with private prisons, particularly G4S contracts valued at $120 million set to expire at the end of the month.

"The time has come for Florida to stand up for its youth and put an end to privatization," said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange. “Before retiring, Secretary Walters has a key opportunity to do what's best for Florida's children and the state as a whole. By rejecting private prisons, the Secretary would set a much-needed new standard for the incoming secretary, one that that rejects the exploitation and abuse of children in the name of corporate greed."

"ColorofChange has identified a serious problem in Florida's juvenile justice system, where the care and custody of some of the state's most vulnerable children are contracted out to the lowest bidder for the purpose of generating corporate profit", said Alex Friedmann, Associate Director of the Human Rights Defense Center in Lake Worth, Florida. “For-profit companies have little incentive to rehabilitate youths, but do have an incentive to cut costs — and thus cut corners — in order to boost their bottom lines. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice needs to heed this call for reform."

A number of other states have ended their support of private prisons. Last year, Kentucky, Texas, Idaho, and Mississippi broke ties with the industry after reports of chronic understaffing, inmate death, and rising costs to the states became too difficult to ignore. A CCA facility in Idaho is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Rashad Robinson continued, "Time and time again we’ve seen the devastating impact of private prisons on Florida’s criminal justice system. As long as private companies are running the system we will continue to see these problems. Incarceration is not a business, and we refuse to allow the FDJJ to give company's license to harm our communities. Secretary Walter’s has a choice to make, and rejecting private prison contracts is a much-needed step in the right direction."

Private prison company Youth Services International (YSI) holds approximately $100 million in contracts with FDJJ despite its horrendous track record. One Florida YSI prison reported the highest number of sexual assaults out of 36 prisons reviewed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In 2012, G4S, the state’s largest youth private prison contractor, reported 21 incidents of excessive force. FL private prisons are known to under report staff abuses, which violates state contracts. Together, G4S and YSI have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to FL politicians.

Nearly 50,000 ColorOfChange members have raised their voices to end for-profit imprisonment by holding corporations, politicians, and board members accountable. For more information on the national campaign please see:

http://colorofchange.org/campaign/end-profit-imprisonment/

###

With more than 900,000 members,ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.