The state Department of Health and Human Services is welcome to look over a proposal from a private company that wants to manage forensic mental health care for people accused of serious crimes, but privatizing this kind of care has no more merit right now than another proposal out there to privatize prison health services.
GEO Care of Florida is talking to DHHS about the idea. The company is a subsidiary of GEO Group, which is the second-largest private prison company in the United States.
This type of care is for people who are charged with serious crimes including murder, rape or assault, and who were found not guilty by reason of insanity or can't be tried because they're unable to understand the charges against them.
But the logic in privatizing the services falls short. First, private companies by definition have to make a profit. Thus, anticipated savings might be difficult to come by when all was said and done. Second, state oversight would have to be not just maintained but intensified, as the state would no longer be performing the services directly. Third, this is apparently the only company that has made a proposal to the state. As with any other contract, there need to be competing bids, and if there are none it says something about the wisdom of the plan anyway.
Privatization always sounds like a good idea. Save money, take a burden off the state, etc. But when reality hits, it become less attractive in many cases, and getting the numbers to work for everyone becomes more difficult. If not impossible.