A Politico analysis released Wednesday shows the Florida Department of Corrections is misleading the public in justifying its plans to eliminate transition beds in community-based facilities such as those at Bradenton Bridge.
While the Department of Corrections argues that moving these beds out of the community-based facilities and into department-run prisons will allow for the treatment of more inmates, the “substance use disorder budget” the department is referencing “doesn’t actually refer to a particular line or entity in the state budget,” but from different parts of the state budget, according to Politico.
The Department of Corrections budget for 2017-18 has no funding earmarked for operating the Bradenton Bridge, 2104 63rd Ave. E., as well as other such facilities around the state, according to Lori Costantino-Brown, president and CEO of Bridges of America.
Bradenton Bridge, which provides women with counseling, classes and employment opportunities, may be closed on July 1. On Wednesday, the Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the department “has no intention of closing any facilities down.”
Department of Corrections budget chief Mark Tallent said the money is “almost interchangeable,” and the department doesn’t need legislative approval even though the money is coming from different parts of the budget.
However, state law allows agency heads to move small amounts of money in their budget, but if the total is greater than 5 percent of the original budget or $250,000, whichever is greater, then it requires approval from lawmakers, according to Politico. The department is currently spending more than $15 million a year on the transition beds, which is more than the allowable amount to skip receiving approval from lawmakers.
“I think the feeling among some in the Legislature would be they don’t have the authority to make the transfer,” a source inside the Florida House told Politico. “In order to be safe, they should go through the budget process. Better safe than sorry.”
The Politico Florida analysis also found that, based on the Department of Corrections’ data, “the estimated cost per inmate per day to the department for drug abuse treatment in state-run prisons would be roughly the same, if not more expensive, than what it is currently paying for prisoners to get drug treatment at a Bridges facility in Orlando.”