Despite past violations, GEO gets contract for management of South Texas Detention Center
The GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison operator, announced last week the inking of a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “for the continued management of the company-owned 1,904-bed South Texas Detention Center located in Pearsall, Texas.” According to the company’s press release the five year contract, effective through November 30, 2016, is worth $45.0 million “in annualized revenues at the full occupancy level of 1,800 beds.” Global Security News reports that the total contract is worth $236.2 million.
Private prison opponents have criticized the decision. Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership told the Texas Independent that because of Obama Administration policies, private prison companies continue to receive lucrative contracts despite their history of civil rights abuses.
“Because the administration seems to be determined to detain and deport record numbers of immigrants – the vast majority for only minor offenses, ICE continues to contract with troubled private prison corporations like GEO Group for facilities like Pearsall,” said Libal. “ICE should prioritize release and non-restrictive alternatives instead of mass detention in for-profit prisons.”
GEO has been the subject of criticism and involved in several lawsuits over abuse and other civil rights violations. Justice Strategies, in cooperation with Grassroots Leadership, has operated a blog that highlights the operations of GEO Group and other private prison corporations in Texas. The blog has cataloged allegations against GEO Group that have included accusations at the Pearsall facility of civil rights violations, inadequate health care, and labor disputes.
As the Texas Independent reported last year, GEO Group, along with Reeves County and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, were sued over an immigrant’s death in the Reeves County Detention Center after GEO employees failed to provide him with any medical attention to control his seizures. He had been left unattended in isolation. That was the ninth death at the Reeves County Detention Center in recent years. The GEO Group has also faced legal ramifications outside of Texas. The New Mexico Independent reported that the New Mexico Department of Corrections fined the corporation $1.1 million for understaffing one of its prisons.
GEO Group and other private prison organizations have reaped the benefits of stricter state immigration laws and Obama Administration immigration policies. An investigation by National Public Radio found that in coordination with the American Legislative Exchange Council, private prison companies lobbied for state laws that fill their beds with detained undocumented immigrants. The numbers have also increased with the fact that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported 400,000 deportations in fiscal year 2011 is the highest total in the agency’s eight years.
The main reason some people are against private prisons, is because of the correctional officer unions around the country. The bottom line, private prisons save tax payers money. We have two choices, if undocumented immigrants are living here in violation of the law, remove them or make them legal and make them pay taxes. Sounds like ICE is doing their assigned job. As for Obama’s administration, he’s been in office for three years, who signed off on the private prison industry?
The area requires a constant, reassuringly sized police presence. Whatever that takes (the horses seem to provide a positive impact). Thank goodness the thin police presence there successfully arrested 7 (alleged) brawlers.
Copy/pasting this from a comment I made a while ago in the MN Independent:
The worst part about private prison operations and private police is that they are not government agents/institutions any longer, and therefore cannot be charged for violating the constitutional rights of the people they interact with. They have far more leeway to do whatever they want than similar government-run institutions that are held accountable to our constitution and must answer to the people. Zero oversight. Worse yet, they have the privatization-obsessed business lobbying groups on their side, in addition to their own powerful groups. They are in cahoots with anti-government groups that want to dismantle these institutions as we know them, putting them in the hands of private interests in the name of being pro-business, with little regard for the effects on individual people who have the unfortunate experience of being put under their “care”.
The main goal of private prisons is profit, not public safety, not rehabilitation – profit. How could this possibly benefit society as a whole? Have for-profit health insurance companies worked out well for middle class Americans? Have deregulated, privatized airlines improved the experience of flying for Americans? Of course not, so what makes anyone think that this will benefit ordinary citizens? The idea that privatization of prisons will reduce taxpayer costs is a fallacy. Private businesses want more money, not less – and they will encourage the infinite expansion of our prisons because that’s what makes them money, and they operate using government (taxpayer-funded) contracts.
There’s a simple answer to drastically cutting our corrections budgets nationwide: stop incarcerating low-level drug offenders. Put them in treatment if they have serious addiction issues – it works better in the long run anyway. Prison populations will plummet. So will the costs of maintaining the prisons. Heck, we’d even be able to close some of our prisons. Fewer messed up people will be leaving prison in droves once their sentences are over, only to fail to reintegrate into society and re-offend (because after 5 years in prison, that’s all you know how to do). It’s in everyone’s interest to get former felons to stop re-offending, because if they can get legitimate jobs and support themselves, we don’t have to pay for them any more. Whereas for private prisons, getting people to re-offend means more $$$ because that’s how their contracts work. They get a certain amount of money for every prisoner they house, so the more prisoners the better. It’s in their best interest to keep their massive warehouse prisons full. Meanwhile, the violent crime rate in America is at a record low. So why is our incarceration rate at a record high? And why did the crime rate start falling BEFORE our incarceration rate skyrocketed? It doesn’t add up, unless you realize that the point of imprisonment at this stage is to make money, to the detriment of our society.
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