Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mississippi ousts GEO Group at three facilities

In Mississippi, "the state's corrections commissioner on Friday said that [the GEO Group] would no longer operate three [private prison] facilities in the state, which held 4,000 inmates," NPR reported recently. Regrettably, Mississippi is seeking another contractor instead of taking their management in-house or downsizing youth facilities, as Texas has done.

Now to be clear, a state that, in the 21st century, voted 2-1 to keep the Confederate battle logo as part of its state flag (you don't really see it flying much in any of the come-to-Mississippi tourism commercials, do you?) doesn't really care what us Texans, DOJ, or anybody else thinks about them. They ousted Geo out of their own self interest, so as another of GEO's customers, Texas should naturally consider why.

The decision comes in the wake of legal setbacks for the company in federal court involving abuse allegations at a juvenile facility, though GEO insisted their departure is unrelated and adamantly denied the charges. Even so, "the judge's [March settlement] order ... said an investigation by the plaintiff's counsel 'uncovered pervasive violations of state and federal civil and criminal law and a wholesale lack of accountability by prison officials. For example, staff of the [facility] and those responsible for overseeing and supervising the youth engaged in sexual relationships with the youth; they exploited them by selling drugs in the facility; and the youth, 'handcuffed and defenseless[,] have been kicked, punched, and beaten all over their bodies.''"

To make matters worse,"Staff at the center failed consistently to report and investigate claims about excessive use of force, even though they witnessed many of the acts, the judge wrote. 'Given that the facility employs correctional staffers affiliated with gangs, no more can be expected.'" Finally, "The judge also noted a Justice Department report, which confirmed many of the allegations and said the state of Mississippi was 'deliberately indifferent' to the constitutional rights of the young inmates."

Whatever proximate cause anyone wants to attribute it to, when federal judges start saying things  like that about your government contract, it's understandable one might decide it's time to pack up and leave town!

Texas has closed many of its juvenile facilities and may soon end up closing the rest of them, shifting juvenile supervision wholly to the counties and more aggressive community-based programming. It's too bad Mississippi looks like it will continue  contracting management of these facilities instead of taking the opportuntiy to pull them in-house or, better, downsize. I'm not sure  just finding another profit-driven management contractor will solve the problems the judge chastised them over.

RELATED: From Texas Prison Bidness, "GEO Group subject of lawsuit in prison death at Central Texas detention center." Also, "GEO guard indicted for contraband at Val Verde Correctional Center."


DeathBreath said...

Oh, this is rich. You mean to tell me that profits were more important than quality? GOPigs don't care about you! They care about kickbacks & dirty deals. GOPigs have signed pledges to not raise taxes. So, here are the consequences! Idiots!

Scott in South Austin said...

GEO will be just fine. The State of Arizona just budgeted $50 million this FY to the construction and operation of private prisons, while neglecting health care for the poor and old and education. Which is why I call it Aribama.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Actually IMO GEO is WAAAY overleveraged and they can't really afford for income to dip too far or too quickly, they've told shareholders in SEC filings, without having to to dip into operating funds to cover their debt load.

Lance said...

With ALEC being exposed and the prison housing bubble finally at its end, Geo Group and CCA are in serious trouble. Several Counties in Texas are in serious trouble too, due to there poor investments in private prisons.

Geo Group (Gee Oh??? Group) invested in areas historically known for their trial attorneys. What type of idiot invest in a high liability project, such as a private prison, in areas like Jefferson County or the Rio Grande Valley? It's just a matter of time before these lawyers learn there is money to be made. Maybe Geo Group (Gee Oh??? Group) is dumb enough to open a prison in Nueces County too.

benbshaw said...

Some government services should never be privatized. Adding the profit motive to the process of deciding whether the accused should or should not be deprived of his or her freedom only makes the justice system more suspect than i already is. For many communities in rural areas, prisons have attained the same importance as "industries." The growth of the large number of incarcerated persons in Texas and the U.S. is primarily related to harsh laws, particularly for substance abuse, and the out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality found in our culture. Private prisons are more out-of-sight and less accountable than public prisons, , and generate powerful forces to continue their existence through lobbying, campaign contributions, and the pressure of local communities to keep their prison-related jobs intact if not increase in number.

Anonymous said...

@benbshaw 10:19

Very well said! I would just add that it is load of crap to say that privatizing corrections will save taxpayer $$.