(1) The department is authorized to contract with private transport companies for the transportation of prisoners both within and beyond the limits of this state. Each prisoner shall be taken into custody by the transport company for the purpose of transportation and then delivered by the same transport company to the proper law enforcement official upon arriving at the point of destination. Any private transport company transporting a prisoner pursuant to this section shall be considered an independent contractor and shall be solely liable for the prisoner while she or he is in the custody of such company.
(2) The department shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following requirements in any contract with any transport company:
(a) That the transport company shall maintain adequate liability coverage with respect to the transportation of prisoners;
(b) That personnel employed with the transport company who are based in the state shall meet the minimum standards in accordance with s. 943.13 and that personnel employed with the transport company based outside of Florida shall meet the minimum standards for a correctional officer or law enforcement officer in the state where the employee is based;
(c) That the transport company shall adhere to standards which provide for humane treatment of prisoners while in the custody of the transport company;
(d) That the transport company shall submit reports to the department regarding incidents of escape, use of force, and accidents involving prisoners in the custody of the transport company.
(3) Any company providing transport of inmates, pursuant to this section shall hold a Class “B” license pursuant to chapter 493, and any employee of such a company shall hold a Class “D” and Class “G” license pursuant to chapter 493.
(4) The department shall advertise for and receive competitive bids for the transportation of prisoners and award the contract to the lowest and best bidder.