Apr 29, 2015
Palm Beach Post

Hunger strike? What hunger strike? GEO asks as protests mark meeting

Outside, more than 100 activists from half a dozen organizations were protesting the Boca Raton firm. Members of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Dream Defenders, Enlace International, SEIU-Florida and the Palm Beach Environmental Coalition were on hand, as was Texas-based Grassroots Leadership, which has worked with Karnes facility immigrants.

Protesters blasted the billion-dollar company’s fundamental business, which hinges on a daily payment rate for every prisoner or immigrant it houses. [node:read-more:link]

Humpday Hall of Shame: Corrections Corp. of America wants to lock up your puppy?

Private prison company Corrections Corporation of America has long been accused of caging incarcerated people like animals for a profit.  Now the private prison giant — founded on the simple principle that prisons could be sold "just like you were selling hamburgers" — is looking to branch into a new market — building an animal shelter for a Florida county.

With CCA's track record of staff misconduct, squalid conditions, and unsafe prisons for people incarcerated in its facilities, we aren't optimistic this is will turn out well for the animals of the Citrus County.  Here are the details from GTN News in Gainesville:

Citrus County and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) are considering a partnership to build a new animal shelter. The county says there is a definite need for the new facility.

Citrus County Spokesperson, Tobey Phillips, says, "Space issues-- we have-- we need new runs for the animals, we have kennels that are being doubled up, it's just this facility has been here for a while and we've made it work, but we need a new facility."

The CCA's proposal says the company will handle the logistics and building the facility, but the county has to foot the $2.8 million bill. 

Phillips says, "The county pays CCA a per diem rate per inmate. So CCA's proposal is to increase that per diem rate to cover financing."

 The proposal suggests upping that per diem rate by $5.25, meaning each inmate could now cost the county just over $74 per month. If the new facility is build it will be on county property right next door to the jail. The CCA and the county agree this could be a benefit because inmates could help with the upkeep. [node:read-more:link]

GEO Group Stadium is no more!

Instead of our usual Humpday Hall of Shame post, we have good news to report this week: yesterday, GEO Group announced that it would no longer be buying the naming rights to Florida Atlantic University’s new football stadium.  In February, we covered an arranement between GEO Group and FAU in which GEO would pay six million dollars over twelve years in exchange for its logo emblazoned across the stadium.  University president Mary Jane Saunders faced immediate backlash from her own students, as well as organizations and individuals across the country.  Over 70,000 people signed petitions online and Grassroots Leadership helped organize 60 organizations to sign on to a public letter to Saunders and the FAU Board of Trustees (circulated by Grassroots Leadership).  Even FAU's faculty senate condemned the deal.


What Schools are Promoting Private Prisons?

Last week, the announcement that GEO Group had bought the naming rights to Florida Atlantic University’s new football stadium set off a firestorm.  The for-profit private prison corporation’s $6 million donation to the school is shocking, but its ties to FAU go back much further; CEO George Foley isn’t just an alum, he’s also a former chair of the FAU Board of Trustees and member of the Foundation board of directors.  He even served chair of the Presidential Search Committee that hired Mary Jo Saunders, who has been quoted calling GEO Group “a wonderful company” and that she is “very proud to partner with them.”

This incidence of crossover between the for-profit private prison industry and schools is not unique – both GEO Group and CCA have close ties to universities.  In this Humpday Post we'll look into a few other universities elevating and validating the private prison industry.


Students Protest Naming Stadium After GEO Group, FAU President Agrees to Public Meeting

Private prison industry giant GEO Group has promised a $6 million gift to Florida Atlantic University in exchange for naming rights to their new football stadium. Yes, the GEO Group logo will plague the school’s stadium building for at least the next 12 years...

Or will it?  

Interesting move for a for-profit prison company whose track record is marred with abuse and inadequate medical care among other human rights violations.  Up until the announcement Tuesday, GEO Group ran their prison business largely under the public radar.  Just three days later, however, the controversial deal has been covered by numerous news outlets from the Huffington Post to the New York Times (who quoted Grassroots Leadership’s very own Bob Libal), two petitions -- from the DREAM Activists and Beyond Bars -- are circulating the web, one with over 9,000 signatures, FAU students organized a protest, and even Stephen Colbert weighed in on his Comedy Central show. [node:read-more:link]

Will “Smart Justice” in Florida Mean Prison Privatization?

An outgrowth of Associated Industries of Florida’s Smart Justice Council – the Florida Smart Justice Alliance - is touting itself as “the latest development in justice reform advocacy in Florida.” Their stated goals: 1) Make Florida’s communities safer, 2) Save the taxpayers money, and 3) Hold offenders accountable while providing the tools for them to live law-abiding lives.

To accomplish these goals, members of the alliance are urging Florida lawmakers to divert nonviolent offenders to private prisons for substance abuse and mental health rehabilitation, arguing that privately operated prisons can house and rehabilitate prisoners for much cheaper, thus saving taxpayer money, reducing recidivism, and improving public safety.


"Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act"

We often use this blog to explore some of the terrible decisions made by policy makers, elected officials and private prison personnel. Today, however, we have something to celebrate in Florida.

Thanks to Representative Betty Reed (D-Hillsborough), House Bill 367, prohibiting the use of restraints (shackles) on incarcerated women in labor, delivery and recovery, passed in a 114 to 1 vote in the House.  Only Darryl Ervin Rouson  (D-St Petersburg) voted against the bill. Previously, Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) and her colleagues passed the identical Senate bill, SB 524, in a unanimous decision.

When the bill becomes effective in July of this year, Florida will become the first southern state to ban the shackling of pregnant women in their third trimester and during childbirth.  That leaves thirty-five states across this country that allow the shackling of pregnant and birthing women.


Bi-partisan support kills prison privatization sweetheart deal in Florida

On Valentine's Day the Florida state Senate killed Senate Bill 2038: Privatization of Correctional Facilities, which would have instigated the largest mass privatization of prisons in the nation's history. Private corrections corporations gave Florida lawmakers almost $900,000 in the last campaign cycle. Florida lawmakers pulled out all the stops - trying to bypass both public and media scrutiny - to get it passed. In an extraordinary move, nine Republicans broke ranks, defied their leadership and joined with their Democratic colleagues to stop the bill.

SB 2038 was fast tracked through the Senate. Despite powerful testimony against the bill in the Rules Committee, it was rushed through to the Budget Committee - circumventing the committees that would ask the hard questions about this legislation.  Senate President Mike Haridopolos thought he had the votes he needed.  But a second reading saw a handful from his own party questioning the bill.  And it all fell apart.


Florida’s Ongoing Privatization Saga - Call in the Clergy?

During the temporary postponement of SB 2038 Privatization of Correctional Facilities we see a once smug Senate President, Haridopolos, scrambling for support.  After trying to fast-track a vote on what would become the largest prison privatization move in the nation, its supporters are scrounging for the 21 senate votes it needs to deliver to the multi-million-dollar private prison corporations what they had promised.

The senate president fired Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, from his chairmanship of the budget panel in charge of prisons because Fasano dared to suggest an amendment that would require real study and real thought. Oh, and he publicly stated that privatizing was a payback to GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America.  And, he called Haridopolos a bully.



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