The latest issue of Geo World, private prison corporation GEO Group’s quarterly magazine for it’s employees, is dedicated to celebrating the private prison company’s “10-year anniversary of its independence,” or its transition from a corporate subsidiary of Wackenhut Corrections Company to an independent corporation. The magazine touts their Employees of the Year and various international & community services.
A corporation that reaps billions from caging human beings is celebrating independence... oh, the irony! Here are just some examples of why we believe that ten years of GEO Group and profiting from imprisonment is nothing to celebrate:
- Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility - GEO Group has been implicated in the serious mistreatment of young people at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, which Federal Judge Carlton Reeves called a “cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.” A report released by the Justice Department describing conditions at the facility included prison staff having sex with incarcerated youth, in addition to brutal beatings and excessive use of pepper spray by poorly trained guards among others.
- Coke County Juvenile Justice Center - In 2007, state officials shut down the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center due to the unsafe and unsanitary conditions under GEO Group operation. A surprise state audit found that “the facility was in an advanced state of disrepair and rehabilitation and other programs weren't being pursued, leaving detainees mostly constrained.”
- Reeves County Detention Center - In 2009, prisoners at GEO-operated Reeves County Detention Center rioted over issues at the facility that reportedly included poor quality of health care and multiple prisoner deaths. The riot left the prison building heavily damaged, resulting in 700 prisoners having to sleep in tents.
- Tragic death of Scot Noble Payne - In 2007, Scot Noble Payne, 43, committed suicide in a GEO Group-run Texas facility. Payne had been transferred far from his home in Idaho to be housed in Texas as part of Idaho’s policy of easing state prison overcrowding issues. Investigations into Payne’s death exposed squalid conditions at the prison. The Idaho Department of Corrections’ health care director called Payne’s cell “unacceptable” and the rest of the facility “beyond repair.”
- South Florida State Hospital - At the GEO Group-run South Florida State Hospital, three mental health patients died gruesome deaths in the fall of 2012 that a state-ordered review attributed to staff neglect and cutting corners. Among the deaths were a man who lept from a building after hospital staff failed to follow proper escorting procedures and another patient who was found dead in a scalding hot bath after staff failed to perform the required 15-minute check-ins.