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GEO's record comes under scrutiny as North Texas parole facility comes up for renewal

We're a little late on

this one, but Darren Barbee at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has an excellent story ("Private company wants to keep operating Fort Worth prison for parole violators," July 22) about the GEO Group's bid for a contract renewal at it's North Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility:

A private prison for parole violators is bidding for a new contract to continue operating at 4700 Blue Mound Road. The facility is run by The GEO Group, which has had a spotty record with some of its other Texas prison facilities the past several years. Before the contract is awarded, a public hearing will be held.

"Their contract is set to expire ... and GEO is in the process of bidding on those beds again," said Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "The hearing is a chance for the public [to] provide feedback." The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24 at La Quinta Inn & Suites at 4700 North Freeway. (emphasis TPB)

Fort Worth's North Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility has 432 beds. The average stays are 60 to 100 days, with the longest confinement up to six months, Warden Darryl Anderson said.  "Most people don't know we're here," Anderson said.  GEO will get $6.9 million for operating the facility for the 12 months that end in February. It has operated the prison for 19 years and has about 100 employees, Anderson said.

The article points out GEO's spotty record across in Texas and weak oversight mechanisms at TDCJ:

In early 2007, a trusty paroled for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon escaped from the facility. Anderson, who has been warden since 2006, said the man escaped with the aid of his sister and an in-law but was found shortly thereafter.

Overall, GEO's Texas facilities have had a few major problems, and the company's Coke County Juvenile Justice Center in Bronte was closed in 2007. GEO, formerly known as Wackenhut, began running the center in 2003 but let it fall into disrepair with unsafe and unsanitary conditions throughout. A few inmates at other GEO Texas facilities have committed suicide or instigated incidents categorized as riots, according to a company report.

In 2006, the company lost a wrongful-death case in Texas costing it $51.7 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This year, the company reported a $20.6 million decline because of the termination of management contracts at the Fort Worth Community Corrections Facility on North Henderson Street, as well as in Venus, Newton, Beaumont and an Illinois facility.

The Criminal Justice Department has come under fire for weaknesses in how it oversees private facilities that deliver residential services and substance abuse treatment programs, including those operated by GEO. In March, a state auditor's office report found that the department did not consistently include financial reporting requirements and performance standards in its contracts to hold providers accountable. The department also allowed three providers to conduct their own criminal-history checks of employees.

It should also be noted that GEO has lost at least 5 contracts in Texas in the past several years.  GEO lost its Bridgeport TDCJ contract earlier this summer and the 2008 re-contracting of the Estes unit to MTC.  In 2007, the state of Idaho pulled its inmates from the Dickens County Correctional Center in the wake of the suicide of inmate Scot Noble Payne and a subsequent investigation into "squalid" conditions at the lock-up.  Idaho also cut its contract the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas after the 2008 suicide of Randy McCullough.  And, as the the article indicates, the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center was shuttered in October 2007 by the Texas Youth Commission after a damning investigation into conditions at the youth detention center.

We'll see if the Fort Worth facility follows that trend.  If you've had experiences with the NTISF, please leave them in the comments.

Comments

i worked for GEO when it was WCC in austin , tx. we did have a riot in 97 .at the TRAVIS COUNTY COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER. i personally was involved.i was a corrections ofcr.there. it was scary .it was handled very well by the staff there.a sgt. there did get an inmate preg.the inmate was immediately transferred out and the sgt was charged accordingly. this is a great company. i highly reccomend their contracts be awarded.