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Today on Context Florida: Inmates & employment, health care cost, the Civil War and Key West Ambassador to Cuba

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Today on Context Florida:

With more than 100,000 inmates behind bars, Dominic Calabro notes that Florida’s correctional population is among the largest in the United States. It costs an average of nearly $19,000 per year to house an inmate — more than three times the cost of in-state tuition at the University of Florida. More than 1 in 4 former prisoners are returned to prison within three years of release. Calabro says that allowing nonviolent prisoners who have paid their debt to society a better chance to be considered for employment could help reduce recidivism, improve public safety, and save taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

State Reps. Jason Brodeur and Chris Sprowls say that clear information on health care costs and quality is essential. Floridians should not be left to the extent the status quo where a patient goes to the hospital for a procedure without knowing costs to either themselves or their insurer. Often, they are left to wonder how much they owe once they leave.

Bill Day’s latest:

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According to Diane Roberts, some Floridians are still seemingly fighting the Civil War. But the Civil War wasn’t the beginning of Florida’s detachment from sanity, she adds. It certainly sped up the process. Look at us now, with a wannabe Texan for a governor, ignorant of Florida’s history, clueless about civil rights, tone-deaf on racism, and legislators keen on selling themselves to lobbyists and hostile to the concerns of the poor.

Linda Cunningham introduces us to the “splendid island kerfuffle” over who gets to be the official “Key West Ambassador to Cuba.” A schoolboy romp is playing itself out on Facebook, across the front pages of The Citizen, Key West’s local daily newspaper and, quite likely, in cocktail conversations among the political cognoscenti. Everyone else is doing eye-rolls, Cunningham says, and betting on the next round of this grown-up version of Red Rover. Not that there aren’t a solid half dozen better things to do. Workforce housing, illegal vacation rentals, land-use development, protection of the reef and the marine sanctuary, services for the homeless, air quality and street repairs to name but a few.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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