The decision was driven in large part by a class action lawsuit brought against the firm by the Southern Poverty Law Center and ACLU over a youth detention facility run by the group, and a U.S. Department of Justice report condemning that same facility for 8th ammendment violations.
Overall, the DOJ says that their investigation found “systematic, egregious, and dangerous practices exacerbated by a lack of accountability and controls.” Amongst other things, it cited excessive use of force as the first course of action to maintain order, sexual misconduct by the staff (who otherwise showed egregious indifference towards inmate safety) and totally inadequate health services. The settlement required that the group improve conditions and employee conduct, though by the beginning of this month, little progress had been made.
The GEO Group is the second largest private prison operator in the world, running 65 prisons in the U.S., as well as facilities in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia. Last year, the group reported revenues exceeding $1 billion. They are traded publicly on the NYSE.
This is not the first time GEO Group has faced allegations of reckless indifference and inadequate care for inmates. Last July, they were found accountable for the death of Ronald Sites in 2005 and were forced to pay $6.5 million to his family. Sites was housed in one of the group’s Oklahoma prisons when his cellmate strangled him to death in 2005. The cellmate had previously spent time in solitary confinement for threatening to kill Sites, and had previously stabbed another inmate.
In February, the Florida State Senate struck down a bill—in a 21-19 vote—that would have created the largest private prison system in the U.S., a bill strongly advocated for by Florida-based GEO.
Amidst these and similar setbacks, GEO Group and fellow private prison operator Training and Management Corporation (TMC) are looking to take business to Canada, . The two companies have recently begun lobbying the national government in Ottawa in the wake of national elections in 2011, theGuardian also reports:
– Read the entire article at In These Times.