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GEO Group rejects shareholder resolution to fund rehabilitative programs

Prison Legal News, Dec. 29, 2014.

PRESS RELEASE
 
Human Rights Defense Center

For Immediate Release
  
December 29, 2014 – For Immediate Release

 

Private Prison Firm GEO Group Rejects Resolution to Fund Rehabilitative, Reentry Programs for Prisoners

Boca Raton, FL – GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison corporation, has formally objected to a shareholder resolution that would require the company to spend just 5% of its net income “on programs and services designed to reduce recidivism rates for offenders” in GEO’s correctional facilities.

The resolution was submitted by Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Lake Worth-based Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC). An activist shareholder, Friedmann owns a small amount of stock in GEO Group; in the 1990s he served six years at a privately-operated prison prior to his release in 1999.

“As a former prisoner, I know firsthand the importance of providing rehabilitative programs and reentry services,” Friedmann stated. “I also know firsthand the incentive of private prisons to cut costs – including expenses associated with rehabilitative programs – in order to increase profit margins. This resolution would provide a modest offset to GEO’s profit incentive.”

Citing data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the resolution notes that “Recidivism rates for prisoners released from correctional facilities are extremely high, with almost 77% of offenders being re-arrested within five years of release.” Further, “[t]he need to reduce recidivism rates for offenders held in [GEO’s] facilities is of particular importance, as two recent studies concluded that prisoners housed at privately-operated facilities have higher average recidivism rates.”

The shareholder resolution states that it “provides an opportunity for GEO Group to do more to reduce the recidivism rates of offenders released from the Company’s facilities, and thus reduce crime and victimization in our communities.”

GEO filed a formal objection with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), seeking to exclude the shareholder resolution from its 2015 proxy materials distributed to stockholders. In its objection, the company argued that the resolution relates to a “personal grievance” or would further a “personal interest”; that it concerns ordinary business operations; and that the company had “substantially implemented” the resolution because it already provides some rehabilitative programs and services in its correctional facilities.

According to its website, GEO says it “believes that inmates and detainees should be given the greatest opportunity to improve their health and welfare through rehabilitation and educational programs.”

“If GEO Group truly believes that prisoners in its for-profit facilities should have the ‘greatest opportunity’ for rehabilitation, then the company should have no objection to devoting just 5% of its net profits towards that worthy goal,” said HRDC executive director Paul Wright. “But apparently being able to retain 95% of its profits is not enough, since GEO has objected to the resolution – which clearly demonstrates its focus on the bottom line. The obvious conflict of interest between the company’s financial interests and that of public safety is the higher the recidivism rate, the higher the company’s profits due to more people returning to prison.”

“Evidently, rehabilitating offenders and ensuring their successful return to society following their release from custody are goals secondary to GEO Group’s interest in generating profit,” Friedmann added.

 

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The Human Rights Defense Center, founded in 1990 and based in Lake Worth, Florida, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in U.S. detention facilities. HRDC publishes Prison Legal News (PLN), a monthly magazine that includes reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners’ rights and criminal justice issues. PLN has around 9,000 subscribers nationwide and operates a website (www.prisonlegalnews.org) that includes a comprehensive database of prison and jail-related articles, news reports, court rulings, verdicts, settlements and related documents.

 

For further information, contact:
 
Alex Friedmann

Associate Director

Human Rights Defense Center

(615) 495-6568

afriedmann@prisonlegalnews.org

 

Paul Wright

Executive Director

Human Rights Defense Center

(561) 360-2523

pwright@prisonlegalnews.org