Friday, April 10, 2009

Massive judgment upheld against private prison over inmate murder

Everybody from Texas Prison Bidness to the New York Times is oohing and aahing that the 13th Texas Court of Appeals approved a $42.5 million judgment against the Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut), a private prison contractor over a murder in a South Texas Prison, for failing to protect inmates under their care. According to the opinion (pdf):
This case involves the horrific and gruesome death of Gregorio de la Rosa, Jr. (“Gregorio”). Gregorio, an honorably discharged former National Guardsman, was serving a six-month sentence at a prison operated by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation for possession of less than 1/4 grams of cocaine. A few days before his expected release, Gregorio was beaten to death by two other inmates using a lock tied to a sock, while Wackenhut’s officers stood by and watched and Wackenhut’s wardens smirked and laughed.
See other Grits posts related to the Geo Group:


Anonymous said...

This is notwithstanding, I am wondering how many inmates have been murdered in prisons operated by TDC? And how many wrongful death judgments were handed down against the state? It is too simplistic to simply say that the problems in private prisons are a direct result of their for-profit status; as if a balance sheet solely determines quality. The same issues noted in private prisons are seen in state-operated facilities as well. What is their excuse?

Anonymous said...

Excellent post by 10:35. My exact thoughts on the issue.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like some ex-TYC staffers were at GeoGroup.

Rage Judicata said...

10:35, in how many of those cases were the guards standing there and watching it happen, laughing?

If these facts could be proven against the state, then the state would be hit just as hard.

But, keep in mind that the for-profit Geo Group is not far removed from the under-aying legislature. Regardless of why they offer substandard salaries and services, the result is the same for both. For Geo, the for-profit motives are the reason they cut corners. With state-run facilities, a lack of funding causes the same problems.

I would hope that this warden and all of the staff are prosecuted. I've seen people prosecuted for far less.

jsn said...

If you want to make a profit operating a prison you need to cut your personnel costs because they normally account for 85% of the costs. One way to do that is to have a high prisoner to staff ratio. There is no risk to the investors unless they have to pay a large judgment. The risk to the staff and the inmates is a different story.

Anonymous said...

Was this at the TYC Evins unit in Edinburg? Sounds similar to earlier events?

Angee said...

The general attitude is that prisoners in America deserve what they get but look at the reaction to Gitmo. People would throw a fit if the Red Cross were able to see inside our own prisons since we are talking about prisons and not country clubs. We have seen heads being cut off our people in foreign countries but we must play nice or face public outrage. Those behind our bars are not a concern. Some really ugly things go on in our prisons and I don't understand the difference in attitude. Every penal facility run by our government or by an agent of our government should be overseen by 3rd parties.

Anonymous said...

Will the damages survive review in the TX Supreme Court? Coming from the 13th Court?

Anonymous said...

Geo Group and State prisons don't even compare. While State prisons are bad, Geo prisons are 10 times worse. The guards in Geo Group have an 82 % turnover rate per year compared to 24 % in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The state correctional employees receieve 5 times more training than Geo prison guards.

Just this year Geo has lost control of 2 of their prisons (just in Texas), compared to TDCJ who has lost 0.

Smoke and mirrors is all Geo Group is about, that is why the have high paid lobbyist like Lionel "Leo" Aguirre working for them. They also hire former prison executives like Garry Johnson, to reward them for pushing Geo contracts through. If they were so good at their job they wouldn't need to hire people like this.

I think Anon 10:57 is right. Geo Group hires people who get fired from TYC and TDCJ.

Geo Group is good for one thing, they hire the trash TDCJ and TYC fires. Thank you Geo Group!!!!!!!!! With out you these people would be unemployed or working at McDonald's for higher pay.

Andres Morin III said...

TDCJ and TYC also hire TRASH!! How dare you try to imply that they are any better that Geo Group. Yes, Geo Group, and CCA may be the worst, but, TDCJ and TYC aren't far behind!!..............andy