Coalition of More Than 60 Groups Calls on Florida Atlantic President, Trustees to Stop Stadium Naming Agreement with Prison Corporation

April 1, 2013

Faith, Student, and Civil Rights Organizations Cite GEO Group’s “Shameful Record”

Boca Raton, FL - A coalition of more than 60 civil rights, immigrant, student, and faith organizations has sent a letter to Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders and the Board of Trustees calling for the university to rescind its agreement to name the school’s football stadium after for-profit private prison corporation GEO Group.

“We strongly believe that FAU should not choose to compromise its values by allying itself with a company that has such a shameful record,” the letter reads.  The GEO Group, it continues, “has been the subject of numerous lawsuits involving injury or death of incarcerated and detained people, sexual abuse, and security failures. They have failed state audits and been fined by a federal agency for willfully failing to take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of their own employees.”

“GEO Group is a company with a record marred by human rights abuses, lawsuits, and unnecessary deaths of people in their custody,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, one of the letter's signatories. “It is outrageous to allow a public university’s stadium to be named after a corporation that profits off of incarceration and detention of immigrants.”

Students at Florida Atlantic University have formed a “Stop Owlcatraz” coalition to protest the naming rights deal. Last week the University’s Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly to formally oppose giving stadium naming rights to GEO Group. 

Carl Takei, staff attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project, said, “The students and faculty of FAU have made clear that they want nothing to do with GEO’s prison profiteering and record of abuse and neglect.  President Saunders and the Board need to hit the brakes on this deal and face the facts about GEO.”

In addition to the ACLU and Grassroots Leadership, signatories to the letter include AFSCME, Detention Watch Network, DREAMActivist.org, Dream Defenders, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Fellowship on Reconciliation, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Lawyers Guild, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, United States Student Association, and United We Dream.  The full list of state and national signatories can be seen here.

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Contact: 

Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership, (512) 971-0487, blibal@grassrootsleadership.org