Saturday, July 07, 2007

AG should investigate possible Geo Group fraud

Did the Geo Group commit fraud in Dickens County in addition to running a private prison with allegedly inhumane conditions? It seems possible from the press coverage. AP reported that when the state of Idaho finally sent inspectors to the Spur, Texas facility, they discovered:
virtually no substance-abuse treatment, and a complete lack of Idaho-sanctioned anger-management classes and pre-release programs.
I keep wondering: How could that be? Let's assume for a moment that the state of Idaho did not contract with Geo to house prisoners without stipulating in the contract that the company provide programs and classes required under Idaho state law. I haven't seen the contract, but think that's a safe bet.

If the company contracted to offer programming for these inmates and simply did not do so, that's taking payment without providing services - it seems to me like a straight up fraud case, regardless of prison conditions.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott should look into this alleged deception from the Texas end. Not only has the company possibly committed fraud on Texas soil, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice contracts with Geo to run 10 private units in Texas. So there's a real chance that if Geo isn't providing programming under its Idaho contracts, it's not giving the state of Texas all the programming we're paying for, either.

The Texas Youth Commission scandal out in West Texas shows that when the state places carceral institutions in remote rural areas, it's folly to rely on local prosecutors to provide adequate oversight. General Abbott should jump into the case in Dickens County for the same reason everyone wishes he'd jumped into the case at TYC's Pyote facility when his office first learned about it - he's likely the only Texan in a position to do anything about it.


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