Broward News

Southwest Ranches Detention Center Site to Lose Existing Prison as a Neighbor

For years, an argument in favor of building a CCA-run prison on a plot owned by Southwest Ranches (see our massive feature on the project in last week's issue) has been that it was already sandwiched between a county dump and a women's prison.

Now, due to budget constraints, the state has announced that it's closing the Broward Correctional Institution, a 611-bed women's prison, on May 1. As for the landfill, it could eventually see more traffic if it's reopened to household waste.

If you drive west on Sheridan Street past the last subdivisions, near where the CCA facility will go, you might see a few female convicts out mowing the lawn on work detail.

The surrounding area has long been seen as a place for prisons and other unsavory facilities. The CCA deal got started back in the early '90s, when the Broward Sheriff's Office was thinking about building a "megajail" for thousands of inmates. The current state-run women's prison held Florida's female death row for a while. At Southwest Ranches Town Council meetings, the prison and dump were frequently cited as an argument against NIMBY complaints. Isn't it better, the logic goes, to put all the nasty stuff in one spot?

Just as our feature was going to press, the state announced its decision to close the prison, along with six others. Department of Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker explains:

"Declining prison admissions has led to a surplus of prison beds, allowing us to pare down our budget shortfall by consolidating and closing our older, less efficient facilities. We are committed to placing as many affected staff as possible in vacant positions for which they are qualified."

As for the dump, some are fighting for it to be reopened to household waste as an alternative to the local landfills (e.g., Mount Trashmore), which command high rates for Waste Management and its dump-managing subsidiary, Wheelabrator Technologies.

So a prison is closed, an immigration facility is pretty damned likely, and a dump might be growing. Can't say they're not keeping busy out in the wonderland west of I-75.

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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph