Thursday, September 26, 2013

Private prison rap sheet: Violence, abuse, death

Teamsters are fighting private prison companies that try to take over the government's job of punishing inmates -- and do it for obscene profit. In Florida, for example, Teamsters from Local 2011 persuaded lawmakers that it was a very bad idea to turn a third of the state's prisons over to Boca Raton-based GEO Group. Yesterday, Teamsters denounced private prison companies that negotiate contracts linking inmate population to profit. The union represents 30,000 correctional officers.

Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy -- the ones who exposed ALEC, the corporate dating service for lawmakers -- are now exposing the predatory corporations that are trying to take over our government. They're doing a 12-part series at "" in which they're outing the worst corporate outsources. Today CMD reveals the horrors of prisons run by GEO Group.

Among their findings:
  • CEO George C. Zoley's compensation was an eye-popping $22,315,704 from 2008-2012, almost all paid for by U.S. taxpayers;
  • Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against GEO Group, many of which were settled before trial. The suits range from allegation of inmate death and abuse, excessive force, medical neglect as well as allegations of employment discrimination;
  • An audit by the state of Texas found in 1999 that GEO Group (then known as Wackenhut) barely kept the minimum number of guards required in its contract to run a jail in Travis County. The company was fined $625,000 for chronic staffing shortages; 
  • GEO Group was sued by inmates at East Mississippi Correctional Facility for "barbaric and horrific conditions." The facility, designated for special needs and psychiatric problems, denies patients the most rudimentary mental health services and many committed suicide; 
  • GEO Group settled a lawsuit that charged its Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGYCF) juvenile prison in Mississippi perpetuated violence and corruption. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation found 'deliberate indifference’ in failing to protect youths from harm in seven major areas, including sexual misconduct between guards and inmates and use of excessive force by guards;

Horrified yet? If not, read the whole thing here.