Humpday Hall of Shame

GEO Group Celebrating Its Independence... Oh, the Irony!

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.

 

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Who in the House is Cashing in on Immigrant Detention?

As we covered two weeks ago, the "comprehensive immigration reform" measures being debated in Congress could pour even more millions into the pockets of private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group.  The bill passed by the Senate last month would increase funding for programs like Operation Streamline, which funnel immigrants into the federal criminal justice system are result in more immigrants behind bars.  Now that immigration reform has been passed off to the House of Representatives, we've compiled a list of the the six representatives who benefitted the most from for-profit prison money in 2012.

1. Hal Rogers (R-KY), who chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee, and his Help America’s Leaders PAC received a total of $34,500 from CCA, GEO, and MTC.  The number is fitting -- 34,000 is the number of immigrant detention beds Rogers’ committee mandates that Immigration and Customs Enforcement fill every single day.  With more than half of all detention beds operated by private prison corporations, that means big business for CCA, GEO, and their peers.

2.  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) comes in second on our list, bringing in $24,000 from private prison companies in 2012.  The donations came directly to the Boehner's campaign, through his John Boehner for Speaker Committee, and through The Freedom Project-Friends of John Boehner PAC, which is closely aligned with the speaker.  In fact, CCA was one of TFP's biggest donors, having given it $10,000.  Boehner is not only a promoter of immigrant detention, but also one of the main hinderances to new immigration laws coming before the House.

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GEO Group lauds industry-funded study, Ohioans deserve all the facts

A guest column, Privately run prisons offer value to Ohio, ran in the Toledo based paper, The Blade, on Monday.  The authors, economic professors from Temple University, Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone, point to findings from their recent study to argue that private for-profit prisons are “proven solutions that deserve a second look” from state governments.  GEO Group, the nation’s second largest private prison operator, posted the piece on their website and lauded the study’s findings on twitter.  

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Aramark Serves States Lies While Making Themselves Fat

Back in February we blogged about our concerns with the privatization of food services in correctional facilities and since then have followed the decision-making in Michigan and Ohio where the state governments have been weighing the option.  This week the Association Press covered both states’ recent decisions to contract with private corporation Aramark to provide food service in their prison facilities.  

Our concerns and the ones that are highlighted by the AP article are similar: food quality and portion size is diminished, food workers are paid less, and many other general safety concerns.  The AP digs deeper and describes some of the specific ways in which cost savings is found in compromising quality, including substituting cheaper ingredients for the ones the company claims to be using.

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Secret's Out: McAllen, TX Seeking New Private Prison

UPDATE:  There will be a public forum at McAllen City Hall on WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11th at 5:30 PM for the residents of McAllen, TX to voice their views on the construction of a new private prison!  Click here to see details, sign the petition, and find out what you can do to make your voice heard.

This week, we learned that McAllen, TX has been keeping a dirty secret.  Located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, the city plans to publish a formal request for qualifications this week from private prison operators willing to build a new 1,000-bed lock-up.  The new prison would house federal prisoners for the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) under an existing agreement with the city. 

McAllen police Chief Victor Rodriguez said, “There’s a great need to have their prisoners held in a facility that’s local.” Currently, the federal government pays McAllen $52 a day per prisoner housed at the Public Safety Building, located blocks from the courthouse, but only capable of housing 30 prisoners. USMS transports prisoners from private prisons in Laredo and La Villa to McAllen for court hearings, described as the cause of “logistical headaches” for the Marshals Service.  Under the new deal, the private prison operator would pay the city of McAllen to house prisoners, but that amount is still being negotiated.  The location of the new prison is also yet to be determined.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: A Sad Day for Oklahoma

"You know, just because it is legal doesn't make it ethically and morally right for shareholders to make a profit off of incarceration of our fellow citizens.  I guess with my Christian upbringing, there has always been a conflict with that."

With those words, Justin Jones, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, announced his resignation earlier this week.  Jones, who has held the position since 2005, has been an advocate for policies like Oklahoma’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which aims to “ease the fiscal and social strains caused by Oklahoma’s prison overcrowding” by reducing the state’s reliance on incarceration. 

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Humpday Hall of Shame: CCA Lauds Results of Study that was Paid for By the Private Prison Industry

Quick on the heels of our protest outside the Corrections Corporation of America stockholder meeting, a study emerged last week from Temple University that outlines the fiscal benefits of privatizing prisons.  The researchers concluded that privatization could save the state of Arizona between 14% and 22% without sacrificing quality -- the exact opposite findings of a study by the Tucson Citizen, which found that the price to incarerate someone had increased 13.9% since the contracts began.  Even data from the Arizona Department of Corrections revealed that for-profit prisons cost the state an extra $10 million a year.  We certainly weren’t surprised to find out that the study was funded by "members of the private prison industry." Prison Legal News issued a press release on May 22 which cites numerous other studies CCA has funded to promote its "benefits."

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