As we usher in 2013, Texas Prison Bid'ness is highlighting the top private prison stories of 2012, based on stories covered by our blog. Our number two story of the year is GEO Group's failed attempt to take over operations at the Kerrville State Hospital.
TPB Big Story #2 - GEO Group Loses Bid to Take Over Kerrville State Hospital
This summer, media in Texas reported that GEO Care, a subsidiary of private prison corporation GEO Group, had plans to take over the management of a Texas State Hospital, where indigent people with mental illness and forensic patients incompetent to stand trial are rehabilitated. The takeover would be pursuant to a rider snuck into the 2011 legislative session that mandated the privatization of one state hopsital. It quickly was discovered that GEO Care had submitted the sole bid on to take over one facility - the Kerrville State Hospital.
Pointing to GEO's troubled record, mental health care advocates and criminal justice reform groups immediately worked to stop the privatization effort. A coalition of Texas organizations, including Grassroots Leadership, a co-sponsor of this blog, sent a sign-on letter urging state leaders to halt privatization efforts. In September, more than 700 people from across Texas signed an online petition to stop private prison corporation GEO Group from taking over the Kerrville State Hospital. State and local officials spoke out against privatization, and the media across the state ran exposés on GEO’s troubled record operating prisons and jails.
The organizing efforts paid off. In October, state leaders announced that they rejected GEO Group’s bid to take over the Kerrville State Hospital. However, Kerrville and other state hospitals may not be out of the woods yet. GEO Group continues to tell investors that they see opportunities in mental health facilities in Texas.