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GEO Group Reports on Expanding Capacity in Texas

The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO) held a conference call for investors earlier this month. During the call, GEO reported on policy developments that will impact private prison capacity in Texas and beyond. GEO officials stated that the company's private prison capacity is scheduled to increased by 5,900 beds during 2008, representing a 12% year-to-year increase in bed space. During 2007, the prison profiteer had a capacity of 48,260 and grew to 54,160 beds in 2008.

Several private prison units owned or managed by GEO opened for business in recent weeks, with more prison beds on the way. According George Zoley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GEO, continued demand from federal clients are driving private prison expansion in Texas and other states. Zoley stated that client demand among the agencies of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Marshals Service (USMS), and the Bureau of Prissons (BOP) will lead GEO to open three new major facilities in Texas for an increase of 3,200 beds in the lone star state.

According to Zoley, the desire of federal clients to consolidate prison populations into the same facilities drove the company to construct new prisons that could accommodate customer needs. As a result GEO is bringing online the three new facilities in Texas.

During the call, Zoley mentioned that this would free up approximately 1,000 beds in Texas as the private prison company shifts federal prisoners and detainees to the new facilities it is bring online. Apparently, ICE, USMS, and BOP are coordinating their prison populations so that some of their prisoners can be held in the same facilities.

Investors questioned GEO's decision to construct new private prisons that would result in 1,000 empty beds in Texas. Zoley assured his investors that despite temporary population reductions at certain facilities, new inflows of detainees as a result of current policy will result in normalizing occupancy levels at older prisons once the new private prisons are at capacity.

It is incredibly troubling listening to the exchange between Zoley and GEO investors regarding the profitability of the company's given the empty 1,000 beds that result from new construction and the consolidation of federal prison populations. After all, each bed does represent a human being for a period of time, many of whom have families and ties to their communities. We encourage everyone to listen to the GEO conference call, it is incredible how criminal justice policy can be reduced to dollars and cents for prison privateers. 

Read more about GEO Group's ongoing problems with prisons in Texas