Meet the controversial private prison corporation, Geo Care, that may run Terrell State Hospital.

Private company G

EO Care, an offshoot and former subsidiary of the for-profit private prison company GEO Group, was given a tentative award to operate the Terrell State Hospital on October 21, 2014. This award resulted from a Request For Proposals (RFP) released by Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) in June of 2014.  While advocates called for greater transparency early on in the selection process, and expressed concerns regarding the potential consequences of privatization, the decision to select GEO Care as the recipient of the RFP award proceeded without including the input of advocacy groups. Knowledge of GEO Care’s  troubled history also did not seem to impact the outcome of HHSC’s decision.

Currently, GEO Care operates the State Hospital in Montgomery County. A little over a year after its opening as the first privately operated psychiatric hospital in the state, the facility was facing thousands of dollars in fines for inadequate patient care. Some of the allegations included “unauthorized restraint and seclusion of patients, incomplete medical records, failure to show patient consent for medications and failure to report serious injuries to the state.”

In 2012, a South Florida State Hospital run by GEO Group, was under intense scrutiny following the death of three patients under their care. The official investigation found that employees at the facility may have “overmedicated patients and failed to alert the state abuse hotline after a patient died in a scalding bathtub.”

Also in 2012, GEO Care was the sole bidder to potentially take over operation of the Kerrville State Hospital in Texas. After significant opposition from a number of advocacy groups, GEO Care’s proposal was rejected by DSHS Commissioner Dr. David Lakey on the grounds that the contract would result in cuts that would largely impact the quality of patient care at the facility “primarily through reductions in staffing and benefits to a degree that would put both our patients and the State of Texas at risk.”

GEO Care’s track record comes as no surprise given the equally controversial history of its parent organization, GEO Group, a private prison corporation known for abuse, riots, deaths, and lawsuits associated with its facilities. For example:

  • In 2007, an individual died in an isolation cell in a GEO run detention center in Pecos, TX. Riots ensued following this incident.

  • In 2008, GEO Group was under investigation after two suicides occurred in the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas.

  • In 2011, GEO Group was under federal investigation for the overdose of an individual held in the a Central Texas Detention Facility.

  • In April of 2014, a GEO employee was charged with sexual assault of someone detained at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, near San Antonio.

  • In 2014, complaints were filed reporting allegations of sexual abuse at the GEO run Karnes Detention Center.

These are only Texas examples of the history of mismanagement so rampant in GEO run facilities.

Given this, it stands that privatization of our state hospitals, especially with a company whose history is as disgraceful as GEO Care’s, is not likely to ensure that individuals will receive the adequate and quality care that they deserve.