GEO

Humpday Hall of Shame: Nayely is only 7 and fighting brain cancer in detention

UPDATE: Nayely and Sara were finally relased on Wednesday, September 3 after hundreds of calls poured into the facility demanding their release.

This week on Humpday Hall of Shame we are highlighting the Karnes County family detention center, which is operated by GEO Group. Beginning August 1 of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began using Karnes to hold more than 500 women and children who have recently come to the U.S. from Central America seeking refuge.

Recent reports indicate that ICE is unwilling to grant any bonds, or grants exorbitantly high bonds — even to those women with children who are able to pass a credible fear interview and qualify to apply for asylum status. According to ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda, bond decisions are now being made on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to flight risk and public safety.  However, the majority of the women currently being denied bond can prove that they have family members or others who are available to receive them. This new policy was handed down as a reaction to the influx of women and children fleeing from increasing violence in Central America.

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Aug 6, 2014
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KUT.org

A Private Prison Group Runs Texas' New Immigrant Detention Center

...[An] ICE official said the agency had no choice in picking GEO. The contract, he explained, is not through ICE but through Karnes County.

The view from the Karnes City facility's upper-level residences.
Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Bob Libal says subcontracting is part of the strategy GEO has used to stay in business despite persistent lawsuits. Libal leads Grassroots Leadership – a nonprofit organization that, among other things, researches the shortcomings of for-profit prison corporations.

"Whenever anything goes wrong ICE says, ‘This is not our problem, this is the county's problem,’” Libal says. “But really, you have layers of lack of transparency and lack of accountability that are built into these contracts.”

Libal says GEO is Texas' first choice to run detention centers, prisons and mental health facilities in part because they save the state money by cutting costs.

But he also notes the group is a very generous political contributor at the state and federal levels, and has one of the strongest lobbying teams he’s ever seen. Two members of the company’s board of directors are former members of the George W. Bush administration; Libal says there’s a sort of “buddy-buddy” relationship within GEO's county contract negotiations. Read more about A Private Prison Group Runs Texas' New Immigrant Detention Center

Humpday Hall of Shame: TX Health and Human Services Commissioner Janek takes tips from GEO Group on how to privatize mental health hospitals

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission regularly reviews state agencies to assess functionality and efficiency. This year Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is under review. During its response to the Commission yesterday, Health and Human Services Commissioner Janek felt compelled to use his time in front of legislators to promote privatization of state hospitals which provide voluntary and court-ordered inpatient mental health treatment.

The Sunset Staff Report, which called for immediate action to address the “current crisis in the state mental health hospital system,” did not include recommendations that warrant the privatization of state hospitals. Yet Comm. Janek touted the recent release of a Request for Proposals to run Terrell State Hospital as a supposed solution. "We are in the business of operating facilities when we could contract with someone to operate those facilities,” he began. “I don't feel any hesitation if the private sector can run our facilities, I think they could offer something."

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Jun 22, 2014
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The Rag Blog

Alice Embree : Grassroots Leadership takes on the prison profiteers

Grassroots Leadership says that Texas is “ground zero” with “more incarcerated people, immigration detention beds, and for-profit prisons than any other state.” That is why the national organization, founded in 1980 by activist and musician Si Kahn, moved its program operations to Austin in 2012.

I spoke with Executive Director Bob Libal about Grassroots Leadership and the group’s current organizing efforts in Travis County, Texas, and nationally. They have a solid track record of success. They helped shut down the notoriously bad Dawson State Jail, end the immigrant family detention at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, and stop the expansion of the private prison industry. They also have an ambitious agenda for the future. Read more about Alice Embree : Grassroots Leadership takes on the prison profiteers

Advocacy groups sound alarm that privatization could negatively impact patients, employees, & Terrell, TX community

Austin, TX - A majority of advocates are sounding the alarm after the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) issued a Request for Proposals for operation of Terrell State Hospital on June 9th. According to the RFP, DSHS plans to award a five-year contract as soon as August 15, 2014. Read more about Advocacy groups sound alarm that privatization could negatively impact patients, employees, & Terrell, TX community

Humpday Hall of Shame: Texas Department of State Health Services plan to privatize Terrell State Hospital

Allies across the state were hoping Texas’ attempts to privatize state hospitals ended in 2012 when Department of State Health Services Commissioner Lakey rejected GEO Group’s bid to take over Kerrville State Hospital. We celebrated that victory in a previous blog post, but now, two years later, DSHS has issued a Request for Proposals for operation of Terrell State Hospital. DSHS plans to award a five-year contract as soon as August 15, 2014.

The RFP raises concerns for various reasons, but most notably because it indicates that eligible applicants “must be an entity with at least three years’ experience operating a Joint Commission-accredited psychiatric inpatient facility and demonstrate the financial strength to operate a large psychiatric hospital.” These requirements narrow the applicant pool considerably, leaving the bidding to only a few large companies, including the for-profit private prison corporation GEO Group, which has a sordid history delivering mental health services in Texas facilities.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Report exposes outrageous abuse and dangerous quotas inside prisons for migrants

Every year, the federal Bureau of Prisons subjects tens of thousands of immigrants to lengthy prison sentences simply for unlawfully crossing the border. A new report from the ACLU and ACLU of Texas exposes an outrageous level of abuse, neglect and discrimination in these "Criminal Alien Requirement" (CAR) Prisons. Read more about Humpday Hall of Shame: Report exposes outrageous abuse and dangerous quotas inside prisons for migrants

Humpday Hall of Shame: Private Prison Companies Buying “Impartial” Accreditation Agency … Again

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at this point, but every time a private prison company pops up as a top sponsor of the largest “impartial” accrediting association in the world, we are. This time not one but eight private prison and private correctional healthcare companies, each with a history of human rights violations, are the top sponsors of the American Correctional Association’s 144th Congress of Corrections conference.

Among them are Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, Management and Training Corporation, Corizon, Wexford Health, MHM Correctional Services, Centurion, and Naphcare.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Public and private detention facilities using cheap detainee labor

This week’s Humpday Hall of Shame spotlight turns to the practice of using immigrant detainees for cheap — and sometimes free — labor in public and private immigrant detention facilities.

The practice was recently highlighted in a New York Times article where author, Ian Urbina,  writes:

As the federal government cracks down on immigrants in the country illegally and forbids businesses to hire them, it is relying on tens of thousands of those immigrants each year to provide essential labor — usually for $1 a day or less — at the detention centers where they are held when caught by the authorities.

While the government insists on implementing an arbitrary quota on the number of people to force into detention centers, it has difficulty sustaining its own operations without this source of forced labor. The practice of strong-arming these men and women into the upkeep of the very institutions that deprive them of their basic liberties underlines the larger injustice of mass immigrant detention.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: GEO Rewarded for being a "Fit Company" while detainees starve in hunger strikes

Congratulations, GEO! You've been given another honorable mention in our Humpday Hall of Shame! 

According to the Digital Journal, Healthyroads Incorporated awarded the Fit Company Award to the GEO Group because of their "GEO-fit-for-life" program, run through... you guessed it... Healthyroads Incorporated

Stephen V. Fuller, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at GEO, spoke favorably of the fitness program: "Thanks to our wellness program, employees are getting more exercise and eating better...More importantly, though, they're enjoying themselves and building camaraderie in the process, which is what will lead to better relationships and lifelong healthy lifestyle changes."

Ironically enough, GEO has a horrific track record of abuse, neglect and retaliation of people locked up in their for-profit private prisons and detention centers.

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