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Guard at San Antonio detention center admits to sexually assaulting inmate

A guard from a private prison in San Antonio pled guilty to sexually abusing a prisoner, reports the San Antonio Current.

Barbara Jean Goodwin was a guard at the Central Texas Detention Facility, a private prison for immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. The detention center is operated by for-profit company GEO Group. Testimony from her victim and other detainees stated she forcibly performed oral sex on a prisoner over 30 times over a six month period. Goodwin now faces up to 15 years in federal prison.

Private prisons already booming under President Trump

Private prisons are already booming under President Trump, reports The Week.

Last August, the Department of Justice announced it would would begin the process of phasing out the use of private prisons, due to serious concerns over safety and treatment of inmates in private prisons, as well as a declining prison population. This decision was celebrated by activists against private prisons, and saw stocks plummet for major for-profit companies such as CoreCivic (formerly CCA) and GEO Group.   

Fast forward a few months, and things have changed. President, Donald Trump, has put a major focus on “law and order,” especially when it comes to detaining undocumented immigrants. New Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the original DOJ memo and told the Bureau of Prisons to once again rely on private prisons. This led to an increase in private prison stock.

Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws

Thousands of immigrants detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities have joined a class-action lawsuit over being forced to work for $1 a day or less, reports the Washington Post.

The lawsuit, originally filed in 2014 is against the GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison company that operates many for-profit detention centers for immigrants.. The case originally started with nine plaintiffs, who claim that detainees are forced to work without pay — and if they don't they are threatened with solitary confinement. The case has now been upgraded to a class-action lawsuit, which could potentially involve thousands of immigrants who were forced to work in GEO facilities. This is the first time that a class-action lawsuit has been brought against a private prison company, and could have major ramifications depending on the outcome.

The GEO Group operates over 20 facilities in the state of Texas.  For-profit prison companies are focused on keeping costs down and using detainee labor is one way to do that. Detainees work in the kitchens, keep the facility clean, and help maintain the facility.  

Immigrants are held in federal detention while they wait to see an immigration judge.

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New DOJ Attorney General Sessions reverses policy on private prisons

The Department of Justice's new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has issued a new memo rescinding last summer's decision to phase out the use of private prisons. According to Rewire, Sessions instructed the Bureau of Prisons on Thursday to once again rely on private prisons.

Last August, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a memo saying that the BOP would begin phasing out the use of private prisons and would not renew any contracts that were being reviewed. This statement followed a review by the Department of Homeland Security into the conditions of private prisons and whether they were still productive or necessary. Following the announcement, stocks in private prison companies dropped dramatically.

GEO Group spend $360 million on acquisition of Community Education Centers

The GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the US, has just brokered a deal to expand their brand even more. According to Reuters, the GEO Group spent $360 million dollars in an all-cash transaction to acquire Community Education Centers (CEC), another private prison company which also operates in Texas. The report states that GEO will integrate CEC into GEO Corrections & Detentions and GEO Care, which will give GEO Group an even stronger hold on private prisons here in Texas. The transaction is set to increase GEO Group's total annual revenues by approximately $250 million.

Facilities operated by Community Education Centers have faced multiple lawsuits and allegations of sexual abuse. Guards from the facilities have also been sentenced to jail for bribery and indicted for attempting to bring drugs into the facility.

County Judge says family detention center is still an option

The application for a family detention center in San Diego is still pending, despite a court ruling against the state licensing family detention centers as child care facilities, reported Caller-Times of Corpus Christi.

Duval County Commissioners voted in July to begin contract negotiations with Serco, a UK-based private prison company, to turn an old nursing home facility into a family detention center. This decision came about after Jim Wells County decided against entering into a contract with Serco over the nursing facility, which sits in both Jim Wells and Duval counties.

The contract from Duval County is still pending following the court decision by District Judge Karin Crump that invalidates the rule that Texas Department of Family and Protective Services used to license family detention facilities as child care facilities. This decision impacts the  South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, and the Karnes County family detention. These facilities are operated by the private prison companies CoreCivic (formerly CCA), and GEO Group, respectively.

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Judge issues final judgement preventing licensing of Texas family detention centers

According to a press release from Grassroots Leadership, an Austin judge has issued a final judgement on a lawsuit by immigrant families to stop the licensing of family detention facilities in Texas.

The decision by Judge Karin Crump of the 250th District Court will effectively prevent the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from issuing licenses to the nation's two largest family detention centers - the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas and the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas. Both of these facilities are run by private prison corporations, with the Dilley facility run by CoreCivic (formerly CCA), and Karnes operated by GEO Group.

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ICE bans Crayons at Karnes County Residential Center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is restricting young children in an immigrant detention center from playing with crayons, reports the Guardian.   

The restriction comes after staff members at the Karnes County Residential Center accused the children of destruction of property. A spokeswoman for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) said the detention center staff enforced the ban after accusing children of damaging a table while their parent received legal advice. In a statement, ICE said that the children caused property damage to the contractor.

Karnes County Residential Center is operated by GEO Group, a for-profit prison corporation. Since last November, GEO has made over $57 million from the center, as reported by the San Antonio Current.

A spokesperson from GEO said that crayons were allowed in other sectors of the facility, but not in the visitation area. However, some parents are already noticing the difference in their children from not being able to use crayons during visitation. One 23-year-old detained mother said banning her children from drawing with crayons was already having an adverse effect.

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Private prison stocks surge after Trump election

The stocks of two private detention companies have soared following the election of Donald Trump, reported Bloomberg Markets.

Stocks in CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) rose by as much as 60 percent before leveling off at a 34 percent increase. GEO Group saw an increase of 18 percent in their stock at the time same time. These two companies are seen to benefit from Trump's presidency, as he has vowed to increase the number of deportations, which will lead to the need for more immigrant detention centers. These are often run by private companies such as CoreCivic and GEO Group.

The announcement and following increase of stocks helped turn around some of the losses both companies had experienced following the announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ)  that they would begin to phase out the use of private prisons. The president-elect is most likely to reverse the policy of the DOJ to no longer use private prisons.

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Ex-prison supervisor gets prison for sex with inmate

KLTV reported that a federal judge has sentenced a former supervisor at a private prison to a little over a year in federal prison for having sex with a federal prisoner under their supervision. 

A federal judge sentenced Leticia Garza to 13 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. Garza was the supervisor of laundry, property, and supply at Val Verde Correctional Facility, which is operated by private prison corporation GEO Group. 

The sentence could have been up to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. 

The Val Verde Correctional Facility is a Criminal Alien Requirement prison, which is under contract with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to detain non-U.S. citizens. It has a history of prisoner assault and contraband smuggling. Since it is contracted with the BOP, the Department of Justice's decision to phase out private prisons will affect this facility.  

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