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GEO Group (Formerly Wackenhut) Rap Sheet, AFSC, 2004

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GEO Group (Formerly Wackenhut)

Rap Sheet
GEO/Wackenhut Does Not Properly Screen Staff:
•
Four felony child pornography charges were recently filed against an assistant warden of
GEO’s Lawton County Correctional Facility in Canadian County, Oklahoma. The assistant warden
was freed on bail after turning himself in to authorities in February of 2004 (“Prison worker freed
on bail,” The Oklahoman, 2/12/04).
•
A former GEO jail guard agreed to plead guilty in federal court in March of 2004 to
intending to distribute between 50 and 500 grams of methamphetamine. The guard was caught
in a sting operation in which she attempted to sell meth to an undercover police officer (“Former
jail guard to plead guilty,” San Antonio Express-News, 3/16/04).
•
Another GEO jail guard was arrested for accepting money and what he believed to be
heroin from an undercover officer while inside the GEO-operated federal correctional facility where
he worked (GEO (formerly Wackenhut) Rap Sheet, Private Corrections Institute,
www.flpba.org/private/rap_geo.html, accessed 4/5/04).
•
In New Orleans, a Wackenhut security guard was accused of second degree murder for
fatally shooting his roommate, who was also a Wackenhut security guard. The incident occurred
during a scuffle outside the Wackenhut headquarters. It was unclear whether the murder weapon
was issued by the company (“Coroner identifies security guard shot to death; Man’s roommate
booked in slaying,” Times-Picayune, 6/27/03).
•
In 2002, a Texas GEO guard crashed a jail van into a lamppost while transporting
prisoners from the federal courthouse. It was later discovered that the guard did not have a
driver’s license (GEO (formerly Wackenhut) Rap Sheet, Private Corrections Institute,
www.flpba.org/private/rap_geo.html, accessed 4/5/04).
•
A former assistant warden of a GEO prison in New Mexico pleaded guilty in 2002 to two
felony charges in connection with the abuse of some inmates. He was accused of ordering two
lieutenants to assault two former inmates at the prison, then orchestrating a cover-up of the
incident (GEO (formerly Wackenhut) Rap Sheet, Private Corrections Institute,
www.flpba.org/private/rap_geo.html, accessed 4/5/04).

GEO/Wackenhut Has History of Shady Dealings:
•
A county judge in California approved a settlement against GEO in a class-action lawsuit
accusing Wackenhut of requiring its employees to work unpaid overtime. The settlement could
pay 1,600 current and former employees up to $1 million. The attorney for the plaintiffs argued
that Wackenhut has “a corporate policy of refusing to pay overtime.” Plaintiffs also complained
they were not given proper rest and meal breaks. One worker said she was denied restroom
breaks even while she was pregnant. (“TCI overtime suit tentatively settled,” Taft Midway Driller,
8/30/04 and “Prison company nears end of battle,” The Bakersfield Californian, 9/7/04).
•
A prisoner in a GEO-operated federal prison was kept two years past the date when a US
District Judge had signed an order for his release. Court and prison officials claimed not to know
what happened to the original release order (“Judge’s order to release prisoner went unnoticed for
over two years,” Associated Press, 6/3/02).
•
A federal jury awarded a former GEO guard over $600,000 in a wrongful termination suit.
The suit charges that GEO retaliated against him for divulging illegal activities at a California
facility. The man sent letters to government officials complaining that “Wackenhut covered up an
inmate escape, engaged in fraud, mishandled incident reports, allowed sexual and physical
assaults and drug use by inmates, allowed inmates to possess weapons, retaliated against him

for seeking various changes, failed to follow the agreement it had reached with the government
and allowed officers to carry weapons illicitly in public” (“Alleged Wackenhut whistleblower will get
his day in court,” Corrections Professional, 3/14/03 and “Former TCI employee wins suit,” Taft
Midway Driller, 8/27/04).
•
The Florida state ACLU chapter filed a public records suit against Wackenhut in 2000 for
“stonewalling” on allowing them access to its records. The organization sought records to confirm
allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and “excessive profit” taken by the company (“A Record
of Dishonesty,” Austin Chronicle, 7/5/02).

GEO/Wackenhut’s Facilities are No Bargain:
•
Commissioners in Val Verde County, Texas had a rude awakening this year when they
learned that the county will pay nearly double the amount it budgeted to house state prisoners in
its county jail. According to the contract with GEO, the county can house up to 60 prisoners
without charge, but for every state prisoner above that cap, the company will charge them the rate
it charges federal agencies--$57 per inmate per day.
•
In a similar story, Delaware County, PA is facing a significant increase in spending on its
GEO-operated prison. Total county spending on the prison was projected to be $28.7 million in
2005—a 19% increase from 2004.

GEO/Wackenhut’s Overseas Ventures Haven’t Fared Much Better:
•
GEO’s Melbourne, Austrailia jail was described as “a hellhole” by one of 5 staff people who
had to take medical leave as a result of the stress of working in the facility. Complaints from staff
called the jail, “overcrowded, poorly managed and occasionally dangerous” and complained of
problems including, “sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, victimization, intimidation, and
poor treatment of inmates” in the facility. One of the officers on leave was quoted as saying,
“Everything is just shonky. People are bullied and harassed if they make a complaint, and any
problems are covered up.” (“Jail is a ‘hellhole,’” Melbourne Herald-Sun, 11/18/04).
•
A GEO prison in Ashfield, England was declared “the worst in the country” by the chief
inspector of prisons there in 2003. An inspection found that “conditions were so bad that many
inmates were frightened to leave their cells. Under pressure staff relied on inmates to act as
“mini-officers” in the reception wing, and escort van drivers were used as officers on other wings”
(“Premier’s Ashfield “worst” prison in England and Wales,” Public Private Finance, February
2003).
•
A special UN envoy in 2002 declared that Wackenhut’s Woomera immigration detention
center violated an international human rights convention on children’s rights and an international
covenant on torture and cruel or degrading punishment (“Asylum policy a tragedy: UN judge,” The
Age, 8/1/02). That facility had been plagued by scandal when the immigrant detainees engaged
in a hunger strike protesting conditions and Australian immigration policy. At one point, about 60
of the detainees, including some minors, actually sewed their lips together in protest (“Woomera
asylum seekers sew lips together,” Sydney Morning Herald, 1/18/02). About 21 others resorted
to drinking toxic substances (“Woomera woes worsen as seven rushed to hospital,” Sydney
Morning Herald, 1/22/02). At least one other inmate threw himself on the prison’s razor wire
(“Violence erupts as protest spreads to WA,” Sydney Morning Herald, 1/27/02).

American Friends Service Committee, 103 N. Park Ave., Ste. 109, Tucson, AZ 85719. Phone:
(520)623-9141, fax: (520)623-5901, email: cisaacs@afsc.org.

 

 

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