The control room of a GEO Group prison. (Photo courtesy of GEO Group.)

By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

The prison system and the Department of Corrections are probably some of the least appealing parts of state government.

As the only group you can absolutely count on not to vote, the people who populate prisons don’t have much of a voice in Tallahassee. And how many citizens are willing to make the effort to understand the bureaucracy, much less the issues, on behalf of criminals? Most folks would rather not even hear about prisons.

Which means we better be paying real close attention to the prison system these days. Not only does it tend to be overlooked, but with the third-largest penal population in the country, Florida invests a lot of money in prisons.

Florida prisons are a $2.3 billion industry. And state leaders are planning to privatize that industry. Only two private prison companies are big enough to take on such a venture, Correctional Corporation of America and the Geo Group. The GEO Group is a financial supporter of Gov. Rick Scott and employs Scott’s friend, Bill Rubin, as a lobbyist.

All of which make the recent reports about the goingson at the Department of Corrections troubling.

Is the forcing out of Buss a good move by a concerned governor? Or a power grab to better control privatization?

At this point, it’s hard to know. But there are enough red flags right now to make it look like Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution on Mayday.