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Florida Considers Reopening Prisons

Florida says it will soon reopen several prisons, a year after closing them. The state projects a growing inmate population.

In July of 2012, Gov. Rick Scott announced the closing of prisons across the state as good news, saying it saved the state money. But next year, the Department of Corrections wants the legislature to reopen nine facilities from Miami to the panhandle. It'll include two prisons, five work camps, and two reentry centers.

Even though state projections show Florida's crime rate is down, new admissions to prisons are rising and are expected to increase by nearly 3% next year.Gov. Scott recently asked state agencies to cut spending by $100 million but the prison system alone wants $124 million to hire more officers, buy new buses and vans, and improve other services.

Critics of the Florida prison system say the state locks up too many nonviolent drug offenders, and should provide them with treatment instead. Scott will decide whether to include the request to reopen the prisons in the budget that he will send to state lawmakers next month.