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July 2010

Is Operation Streamline a billion dollar give-away to the private prison industry?

A new "green paper" released Monday entitled Operation Streamline: Drowning Justice and Draining Dollars along the Rio Grande takes a look at the impact of Operation Streamline on the private prison industry.  I co-authored the report for Grassroots Leadership, a sponsor of this blog. 

Operation Streamline, initiated in 2005 in Del Rio and expanded to much of the Texas and Arizona border, mandates that immigrants apprehended at the border are detained, prosecuted, and incarcerated in the criminal system in addition to the civil immigration system.  This is a departure from previous policy in which most immigrants were only dealt with in the civil immigration system.

The result has been a mess.  In Texas alone, 135,000 immigrants now have criminal records and many have done real prison time under the Streamline before being deported (far from streamlining the process, the policy adds another layer of incarceration on top of the existing civil detention system). 

While most researchers believe that the program hasn't deterred unauthorized immigration, the program has affected the judicial system in serious ways.  The federal court system is horrendously over-booked.  54% of 2009's federal prosecutions across the country were for immigration violations.  In the Southern District of Texas, a district that includes Houston, a full 84% of April prosecutions were for two immigration violations - unauthorized entry (1325) and unauthorized re-entry (1326).  With a mandated focus on prosecution of immigration violations, diligence to other prosecutions has fallen off dramatically.

So, who wins in this scenario?  Our research indicates that, since 2005, more than $1.2 billion in federal money has been spent on the detention and incarceration for unauthorized entry and re-entry in Texas alone.  Nearly all of that  prison beds - contracted by the US Marshals and Federal Bureau of Prisons - are operated by private prison corporations.  Prisons like the GEO Group's Laredo Superjail, Emerald's LaSalle County Detention Center, and LCS's Coastal Bend Detention Center have sprung up around south and west Texas to win US Marshals contracts, largely driven by increased immigration prosecutions.  Could it be that Operation Streamline is a billion dollar give-away  to the private prison industry?

Check out the full report and a new blog on Operation Streamline at

GEO execs amongst highest paid in South Florida

While GEO Group (NYSE: GEO) m

ay have recently lost contracts in Texas, the company's highest executives continue to earn handsome figures.  According to the Palm Beach Post ("102 best paid execs in PBC, TCoast for 2009," July 10), three of the highest paid corporate executives in Palm Beach County are GEO executives.  Top 2009 earners include:

George Zoley, GEO Group's CEO was the third highest earning executive in the Palm Beach area, taking in $7,059,003 in total compensation.

Wayne Calabrese, GEO Group's Chief Operating Officer, was 6th on the list earning $3,602,321 in total compensation last year.

John O'Rourke, GEO Group's outgoing CFO earned $2,274,951 in total compensation last year and was 9th on the list.

Reactions to proposed changes to CCA's detention centers

Andrew reported last month on the proposed changes to nine of Corrections Corporation of America's Immigration and Customs Enforcement-contracted detention centers.  The changes are occurring in response to the alleged sexual abuse of detained women at CCA's T. Don Hutto detention center.  The changes include plans for "movie nights, bingo, arts and crafts, dance and cooking classes, tutoring and computer training," according to the Houston Chronicle (Susan Carroll, "ICE to make detention centers more humane," Houston Chronicle, 8 June, 2010).

However, advocates aren't so impressed.  Texas Prison Bid'ness's own Judy Greene weighed in a story in the Tennessean (Getahn Ward, "CCA may make some immigration prisons less jail-like," June 25),

“Bingo nights is one thing, but still having personnel that can’t figure out how to comport themselves around women detainees or women in state custody shows that (CCA) doesn’t learn from its mistakes,” Greene said.

The proposed changes affect Texas prisons including the Laredo Processing Center, Hutto, and the Houston Processing Center.  We'll keep you posted on any developments.  If you have a loved one in one of these facilities, we'd love to hear your experiences with the changes as well.  You can comment on this post, or get in touch using our Contact Form

Details emerge in McCullough suit

Texas Prison Bid'ness has obtained the filing documents in the case of Daniel McCullough who last month filed suit against the GEO Group for $595 million (the total worth of company) following the 2008 death of his father Randall McCullough, who allegedly committed suicide while in GEO's custody at the Bill Clayton Detention Center

The complaint names as defendents the GEO Group as a company, BCDC wardens Arthur Anderson and Randy Tate, and top corporate executives including CEO George Zoley and COO Wayne Calbrese.  The complaint, which is attached to this post as a PDF, alleges that:

On August 18, 2008, Randall McCullough was found dead while supposedly being monitored by GEO and its personnel. His death was caused by specific breaches of duty by Defendants GEO, Anderson and Tate, and as a result of the corporate direction given by Zoley, Calabrese, O'Rourke, and Bulfm which include grossly inhumane treatment, abuse, neglect, illegal and malicious conditions of confmement, and subsequent cover up of wrongdoing.

The plaintiff's attorney in the case is Ron Rodriguez who won a $42 million verdict against the GEO Group on behalf of the family of Gregario de la Rosa, a prisoner who was murdered while GEO (then called Wackenhut) "wardens smirked and laughed."  In that case, the court found that GEO's "conduct in maliciously causing Gregorio’s death and thereafter spoliating critical evidence so offends this Court’s sense of justice that a high ratio is warranted."  Rodriguez was nominated for a Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year award for his work on the de la Rosa case.

PDF icon McCullough1.pdf577.47 KB