Posts Tagged ‘the geo group’

Opponents want alternatives to immigrant detention centers

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by The American Independent 1 Comment

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, led a tour this week of its new immigrant detention center in Texas. The detention center, which will be managed by Florida-based private prison industry corporation The GEO Group, has raised concerns from immigrant advocates. (more…)

Corrections Corporation of America wants to buy Florida prisons

Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments
The Huffington Post reported on Tuesday that a private prison company had approached 48 states — of which Florida is one — to trade cash in exchange for contracts to run state prisons.


Campaign finance watchdog says $1M behind Florida prison privatization move

Posted on: January 31st, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments
The National Institute on Money in State Politics released a report Monday that highlights the money behind the Florida’s renewed plans to privatize state prisons.


Occupiers arrested in Florida; protests continue against investor conference (UPDATE)

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by The American Independent 2 Comments

An Occupy Miami poster (source: Facebook)

Updated 5:15 p.m., with video footage of the arrests.

Three protesters from the Occupy movements of Palm Beach and Miami were arrested Monday evening after they blocked the Camino Real bridge in Boca Raton to protest the 2012 GAIM conference, a major investor industry event. (more…)

Immigration, private prison officials to meet with residents opposing Fla. detention center

Posted on: October 28th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments
The Southwest Ranches Town Council announced Thursday night that a meeting between Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Corrections Corporation of America and Broward County residents who oppose a proposed immigrant detention center will be held on Nov. 5.

Residents Against SW Ranches ICE Detention Center wrote last night:

The Southwest Ranches Town Council just announced at tonight’s meting that the meeting with residents that was promised is going to be held on November 5th, 2011 at 10am. The place is not yet determined. Will forward details as they are made available.

Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines residents have opposed the proposal to build a federally funded and privately managed immigration detention center in their area since July. Last night residents announced they would call for the resignation of the mayor and town attorney of Southwest Ranches at the town meeting.

A report by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service released Thursday states:

Immigrant detention is the fastest-growing, least scrutinized form of incarceration in the United States. On any given day, the U.S. government incarcerates more than 33,000 immigrants in a vast national network of approximately 250 federal, private, state, and local jails. Among the detained population as a whole, the United States detains asylum seekers, refugees, torture survivors, undocumented immigrants, victims of human trafficking, long-term lawful permanent residents, families, and parents of children who are U.S. citizens.

The Corrections Corporation of America (commonly known as CCA), the largest private immigration detention contractor in the country, is partnering with Southwest Ranches to build the new detention facility, which would house a minimum of 2,000 detainees. According to Detention Watch Network CCA “operates a total of 14 [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]-contracted facilities with a total of 14,556 beds. In 2009, CCA averaged a daily population of 6,199 detained immigrants.”

According to Detention Watch, Boca Raton’s GEO Group is the second largest ICE contractor, with seven facilities and almost 5,000 average daily prisoners as of 2009. GEO manages the Broward Transitional Center located in Deerfield Beach, where at least 700 detainees are held.

Sarah Van Hofwegen, a staff attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice who visits immigrant detainees, tells the Independent, “I see high numbers of women who are victims of domestic violence and end up in the immigration system, through a variety of ways, in the Broward Transitional Center, the lowest-security facility in South Florida.”

Private prison corporations angle for South Florida immigration detention center contract

Posted on: May 27th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

Plans for a new immigration detention facility in South Florida have attracted two of the largest players in the private prison industry, both of which are partnering with different local governments to offer competing proposals.

The GEO Group is partnering with Florida City to bring a proposed immigration detention facility to Miami-Dade County. One of its primary competitors is a partnership between the Broward County town of Southwest Ranches and the private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America, which is currently the largest private immigration detention contractor in the county.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is looking to add more capacity for detainees in South Florida. Corrections Corporation had already won approval from local governments for a proposed facility with beds for up to 1,500 detainees, but the company and the city recently sought permission to expand it to 2,200 beds, if necessary, to help meet ICE’s requirements.

The contract would be a substantial increase in the company’s existing immigration detention business. A white paper from the company states that it currently houses about 6,500 ICE detainees in the immigration facilities it operates, which it says are some of the most heavily audited in its portfolio of prisons and other detention facilities.

According to a white paper Southwest Ranches and the company filed with the Broward County government:

ICE requires approximately 1,500-2,000 new detention beds to meet local demand in the Miami metropolitan area. Ideally, this demand would be met by one 1,000-1,500 bed facility, with the capacity to expand to 2,000 beds. However, ICE will consider proposals for facilities of 750 or more detention beds.

The desired services can be provided in a dedicated multi-purpose facility or multi-facility campus with both secure (medium and maximum security cases) and non-secure residential (low and minimum security cases) beds that is designed and operated to process and house adult detainees, including the full range of criminal and non-criminal cases, in a manner consistent with ICE’s recently announced civil detention reform initiatives.

The proposed location, along U.S. Highway 27 near the edge of the Everglades would also serve as a transportation hub for ICE detainees within an eight-hour drive.

ICE’s practice of housing detainees in private facilities has come under fire from civil rights groups and immigrant advocates, but documents from the city and the company describe efforts to offer more humane conditions for detainees who pose no security threat. The documents describe “a new generation detention facility” that is “not penal in nature,” and which could expand or contract as the numbers and types of people detained by ICE shift over times. It might include courtrooms with video conferencing and other amenities for ICE staff.

Many of the detainees would require lower levels of security and “dormitory”-style detention beds, meaning they are not expected to be dangerous criminals. Corrections Corporation documents describe a “casual atmosphere” that will allow for “detainee movement” and “general relaxation.” The people detained in the facility would be able to watch television, do aerobics or play games like soccer, volleyball and dominoes (among other “enhanced indoor and outdoor recreational activities”) while they wait for their deportation proceedings to unfold.

According to the paper:

To make certain that the facility maintains a relaxed environment, staff would serve as a support system providing assistance to the detainees. Staff would be instructed to behave in a manner that promotes less formality since the facility would enact fewer rules than is typical of a correctional facility. Staff would be available to answer questions, give direction and encourage morale. Staff also would ensure that ICE rules are properly enforced.

According to documents related to GEO and Florida City’s proposal, there is a third local government, in Palm Beach County, that is competing for the new ICE facility, which may or may not have a private partner.

Fla. prison privatization follows record year for political donations by prison companies

Posted on: May 25th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

The National Institute on Money in State Politics took a look at the numbers. Prison firms and companies focused on prison health care gave nearly $1 million to Florida politicians in 2010 — the most the industry has given over the last decade. #

More than four-fifths of that came from the Boca Raton-based GEO Group and its health care subsidiary GEO Care. Corrections Corporation of America also gave six-figure sums. #

The full report is here. #

Most of the money went to the state’s political parties (which don’t have the same limits on contributions as individual candidates), with the the lion’s share going to the Republican Party of Florida. #

As we’ve previously reported, GEO gave some big chunks of cash to the Republican Party around the same time as budget bill language first surfaced to privatize prisons across the southern part of the state as part of an effort to wring savings out of the state’s corrections budget. The plan approved by the Legislature would also turn prison healthcare statewide over to private companies. #

GEO Group teaming with Florida City on potential immigration detention center

Posted on: May 23rd, 2011 by The American Independent 2 Comments

The GEO Group, a Boca Raton-based prison firm, is partnering with at least one Florida municipality on a proposed immigration detention center in South Florida. #

The GEO Group and Florida City are working on an application to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to bring the detention center to southern Miami-Dade County. Under the proposal, the company would design, build and manage the facility, and the city would provide 40 acres of land. #

In a letter to a member of the Miami-Dade County Commission, Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace explains that he and the CEO of the the GEO Group met at federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Washington to discuss the project, which according to the letter would cost about $150 million to build and include beds for up to 2,300 detainees. Wallace did not respond to e-mails and phone messages seeking comment on the proposal. #

The company and the city would be responsible for building the proposed facility under guidelines set by ICE. Two other South Florida municipalities, one in Palm Beach County and one in Broward, are also competing for the facility, according to Wallace’s letter. #

Wallace notes in his letter that GEO is a leader in the private prison industry, and that the facility would bring hundreds of jobs to his city. He was seeking support for an extension of public transportation service to the proposed site, which the commission approved in a resolution. #

A letter from Amber Martin, GEO’s vice president of contract administration, thanks Wallace for his support in this project and for meeting with ICE in Washington D.C. #

An e-mail from an ICE spokesman explains that the proposed multi-purpose facility would house medium-security detainees as well as immigrant detainees who have not committed crimes but are involved in deportation proceedings. It also says ICE is evaluating three proposals from different governments, in some cases with a private company as a partner. #

The ICE spokesman declined to comment on which other local governments were competing for the detention center. Asked about the GEO Group’s role in this project, he said that is not public information at this time. #

The e-mail from ICE also explains that: #

  • The selected government entity and its partner would be responsible for covering the cost of building the facility, if construction is necessary.
  • If construction is necessary the cost of the proposed facility might be in the range of 100 – 200 million dollars.
  • The facility should be able to house approximately 1800 detainees.
  • The facility will help ICE reduce “the transfers of detainees from one geographic area to another due to the lack of detention resources.”

ICE’s description of the project, and other related documents, can be found here. #

The GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, already operates the Broward Transitional Center, which houses mostly non-criminal detainees, under a contract with ICE. As for the proposed South Florida facility, GEO spokesman Pablo Paez said in an e-mail that “as a matter of policy, our company cannot comment on any specific business development efforts.” #

ICE’s use of private detention facilities has been a subject of controversy. The Detention Watch Network released a report last week that indicates that ICE maintains a daily population of over 32,000 immigrant detainees. According to the report, in the last five years the number of immigrants detained and the costs of detaining them has doubled, costing taxpayers $1.7 billion at an average of $122 a day per bed, and nearly 2.5 million individuals have passed through immigration detention facilities since 2003. #

Emily Tucker of the Detention Watch Network said during a telephone conference last week that ICE relies on the private prison industry for immigration detention. In 2009 approximately 49 percent of immigration detention beds were privately managed. By comparison, only 8 percent of prison beds in the criminal justice system were managed by private companies. #

Tucker added that the leading private prison operators – Corrections Corporation of America, the Geo Group and Management and Training Corporation – manage a third of all immigration detention beds. CCA, the largest ICE detention contractor, operates a total of 14 ICE facilities with over 14,ooo beds. GEO is the second largest ICE contractor, with seven facilities and over 7,000 beds. #

National Public Radio reported last year that Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce, who claimed Arizona’s immigration enforcement law S.B. 1070 was his idea, met with American Legislative Exchange Council, a membership organization of state state lawmakers, corporations and other associations, including private prison firms, which helped push for the law. #

Private immigration detention facilities have drawn local opposition in other parts of the country. Grassroots Leadership, a community organization that partnered with the Detention Watch Network on its research into the private prison industry, is part of a Texas coalition of civil rights groups that wrote (.pdf) to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in February to oppose ICE plans to contract a new immigration detention center in Karnes county with the GEO Group. The letter contends that the selection of the site and contractor for Karnes county was done with no input from the community. It also points to cases of abuse and neglect in GEO Group Texas prisons and detention centers.