GEO Group tells shareholders that everything is fine in Karnes family detention center

August 5, 2015

Whistleblower and former GEO employee paints a different picture of “torture” inside and says “this really is a prison”

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Tuesday for-profit private prison company GEO Group reported their second quarter earnings for 2015 on a conference call for shareholders. Despite a federal judge recently ordering the government to release mothers and children from family detention camps, GEO executives confidently spoke about plans to expand the Karnes County family detention camp saying, “In Texas we are on schedule to complete a $36 million expansion to our company-owned Karnes ICE residential Center by December 1st. The Karnes expansion will add 626 beds, bringing the center’s capacity to 1,1158 beds and generating an additional $20 million in annual revenues under a fixed monthly payment.”

GEO executives had no choice but to address the judge’s ruling against family detention, telling shareholders, “[w]hile we cannot speculate on pending legal proceedings, we believe that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE have an interest in the continued use of the family residential centers, which comply with ICE’s family residential standards including our Karnes Center.”

What GEO shareholders didn’t hear about were bombshell revelations from former employee and social worker at the Karnes family detention camp, Olivia Lopez, who blew the whistle on what she described as “torture” inside Karnes.

Lopez exposed horrid conditions the families are experiencing while in detention. Lopez revealed several disturbing incidents she witnessed in the Karnes detention camp, including: a five-year-old survivor of sexual assault who suffered severe developmental regression to the point of wearing a diaper; guards putting women on hunger strike in solitary confinement as punishment; and mothers at risk of suicide whose children are isolated for days under the watch of unlicensed and untrained guards.Lopez also said she was pressured to adhere to policies at Karnes that were violations of her social work license.

“What is happening there is tantamount to torture,” Lopez told McClatchy newspapers.

But you wouldn’t hear any of this from GEO executives or shareholders. “It makes your skin crawl to hear how GEO only talks about profits and payments while families are being unlawfully detained in such terrible conditions,” said Cristina Parker, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership.

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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works to end prison profiteering and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education.

Contact: 

Alejandro Caceres, acaceres@grassrootsleadership.org, 512-499-8111