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HRDC participates in GEO Group shareholder meeting protest

Prison Legal News, April 28, 2015.


Human Rights Defense Center

For Immediate Release

April 28, 2015


Private Prison Protestors to Converge at GEO Group Shareholder Meeting on April 29

Boca Raton, FL – The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) will be among protestors from across the country gathering at the annual shareholder meeting of the GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison firm, on Wednesday, April 29. The protest is taking place at the Boca Resort and Club, 501 E Camino Real in Boca Raton, starting at 8:30 a.m. Over 100 people are expected to participate in the protest, including members of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, students from the Dream Defenders and activists with the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition. A member of HRDC will be attending the shareholder meeting, too.

In December 2014, GEO Group successfully objected to a shareholder resolution that would have required the company to spend just 5% of its net income “on programs and services designed to reduce recidivism rates for offenders” in the company’s correctional facilities.

The resolution was submitted by HRDC associate director Alex Friedmann. As 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.”

The shareholder resolution noted that “[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 resolution stated it would provide “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.

“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. There is an obvious conflict of interest between the company’s financial interests and that of public safety: 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. Due to GEO Group’s successful objection, the resolution will not be presented to the company’s shareholders for a vote at the meeting.

The April 29 protest at GEO’s shareholder meeting will draw attention to the many significant problems associated with prison privatization, including the private prison industry’s business model of incarcerating people for the purpose of generating corporate profit – a model that differs from the purported public safety and rehabilitative goals of government detention facilities.



The Human Rights Defense Center, founded in 1990, 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 ( that includes a comprehensive database of prison and jail-related articles, news reports, court rulings, verdicts, settlements and related documents.


For further information, please contact:


Paul Wright, Executive Director

Human Rights Defense Center

(561) 360-2523


Alex Friedmann, Associate Director

Human Rights Defense Center

(615) 495-6568


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