It’s Not Good Business To Close Hillsborough Correctional Institution by Joe Midzalkowski, Highland City

Posted: March 3, 2012 in News and politics

Hillsborough Correctional Institution is a faith- and character-based women’s prison near Riverview. A former student of mine is incarcerated there, so I have visited the facility.

Inmates must apply and qualify to be moved there from other institutions. Hillsborough works on improving the character, not just warehousing people. When I visited, the warden entered the room, greeting all the prisoners and their visitors with a smile and positive comments. My former student is busy all the time with constructive, character-building classes and tasks.

The governor wants to close it, citing cost. Hillsborough’s cost per inmate is higher than regular prisons, but there are several other factors to take into account.

The state has not allowed the population there to grow to capacity.

More inmates with the same staff would lower the cost per inmate.

There are plans to have the women producing much of their own food by gardening.

More road cleanup done by the prisoners there will bring in more revenue.

Most importantly is the long-range picture. The recidivism rate for regular prisons with a female population in this state is 30 percent.

Nearly one in three of those released return to prison. The recidivism rate at Hillsborough has been 7 percent. If the goal of turning these women from being law breakers to being law abiders, Hillsborough is performing better than any other institution in the state.

Closing Hillsborough would mean many of the women there would return to a warehousing situation, and the chances of them returning to the system and costing taxpayers more money would increase.

I thought Gov. Rick Scott said he wanted to run the state government in a businesslike way. This is not good business planning.

JOE MIDZALKOWSKI

Highland City

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