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And the Door Revolves; GEO Hires ex-TDCJ Official to Oversee Regional Operations

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The GEO Group has hired former Texas Department of Criminal Justice head Gary Johnson to head its operations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, according to a story by Mike Ward in an entry on the Austin American Statesman's blog.

Gary Johnson, the former head of Texas’ prison system, has been hired as a regional vice president for a Florida-based operator of private prisons that became mired in controversy two months ago over conditions at a West Texas youth lockup.

Geo Group Inc. announced that Johnson will head its central region, which includes Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. The territory includes the ill-fated Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, which made headlines in October after Texas Youth Commission officials yanked more than 100 youths from the lockup after alleging squalid conditions.

The revolving door between state agencies and private prison corporations is nothing new. Many of the problems at Coke County came while TYC monitoring of the facility was being performed by former GEO employees, who, apparently, weren't reporting many of the problems at the facility. Of course, Johnson was never much of a critic of the private prison industry. According to Ward:

While Johnson was executive director, the agency signed five-year contracts with Geo to house state prisoners at several lockups. He will oversee the operation of those lockups in his new job at Geo.

Who says public sector employment doesn't pay off? Mr. Johnson, you've got quite the task in front of you... We'll be paying close attention.

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