Senate not focused on keeping open prisons in Jefferson or Hillsborough counties

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Senate President Mike Haridopolos said Thursday that the chamber has heard “loud and clear” the pleas of Jefferson County residents to keep the county’s largest employer, Jefferson Correctional Institute open, reports the News Service of Florida. But, he said, that, and another prison slated for closure by the Department of Corrections that the House has pushed to keep open, Hillsborough Correctional near Tampa, isn’t the main question. “We think at this point that the savings – not just for one year but for year in year out – are our primary focus,” Haridopolos said. “The Jefferson issue or the women’s prison around Tampa is not our primary focus.” DOC has targeted 11 prison facilities for outright closure this spring. The House put language in its budget to keep the Jefferson County and Tampa facilities open, though it may not be binding on the agency. “We’re trying to take it one step at a time before we can make the next finance decision. Let’s look at the big picture –not just a one year decision, but multiple year decisions,” Haridopolos said. “These are recurring dollars if we make these savings.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.