South Fla. prison privatization case gets hearing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An appellate court is hearing the state's appeal of a judge's ruling against the Legislature's plan to privatize nearly 30 South Florida prison facilities.

The 1st District Court of Appeal is hearing the case Wednesday in Tallahassee. That's just four days before a budget provision calling for the outsourcing will expire.

In a separate case heard by a trial judge Tuesday, the state's lawyer argued the Department of Corrections can privatize prison health care services although a similar budget provision will expire at midnight Saturday.

Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford of Tallahassee ruled the Republican-led Legislature violated the state constitution by using the budget to order the South Florida privatization instead of passing a stand-alone law.

A separate bill that would have done the same thing subsequently was defeated.

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