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Letter to U.S. Reps Cleaver and Gutierrez re private prisons - March 2017

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Human Rights Defense Center
DEDICATED TO PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS

March 7, 2017

SENT VIA EMAIL ONLY

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II
United States Congress
2335 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez
United States Congress
2408 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

RE: Your March 2 Letter to CoreCivic and The GEO Group
Dear Rep. Cleaver and Rep. Gutiérrez,
I serve as associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), a non-profit that
is dedicated to protecting the rights of people held in U.S. detention facilities. I am contacting
you in reference to your joint March 2 letter addressed to CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger and
George Zoley, CEO of The GEO Group – the nation’s two largest for-profit prison firms.
First, I want to thank you for expressing legitimate concerns regarding companies that profit
from imprisonment and the detention of immigrants. HRDC has long opposed the privatization
of correctional services, as we believe it is improper and immoral to incarcerate people for the
purpose of generating corporate profit.
Second, according to a recent McClatchy news report, Pablo Paez, spokesman for The GEO
Group, reportedly said he welcomed an opportunity to meet with you both in order to “dispel
the myths” about for-profit prisons. According to the article, Mr. Paez stated GEO’s focus was
on reducing “recidivism and helping individuals successfully re-enter society.”
As Mr. Paez well knows, he is incorrect; as private companies, the focus of The GEO Group
and CoreCivic is to generate profit. Indeed, that is why corporations exist: to make money.
Please reply to:
5331 Mt. View Road #130, Antioch, TN 37013
Phone: 615.495.6568 • Fax: 866.735.7136
afriedmann@prisonlegalnews.org
www.humanrightsdefensecenter.org

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez
March 7, 2017
Page 2

I offer the following evidence that private prison firms care very little about rehabilitation and
reducing recidivism rates. I own a small amount of stock in both CoreCivic and The GEO Group
as an activist investor, which allows me to attend shareholder meetings and submit shareholder
resolutions. In 2014, I filed resolutions calling on both companies to expend just 5% of their net
profit on rehabilitative and reentry programs for prisoners, beyond what they are required to
spend pursuant to their contracts with government agencies.
Both CoreCivic and GEO filed formal objections to my shareholder resolutions with the SEC,
seeking to exclude them from their proxy materials. They were successful – the SEC granted noaction letters, and my resolutions thus did not go to shareholders for a vote. This unequivocally
demonstrates that neither The GEO Group nor CoreCivic have a “focus,” much less any actual
interest, in providing rehabilitative or reentry programs for prisoners beyond the bare minimum
they are required to offer pursuant to their contracts.
Copies of my 2014 shareholder resolutions submitted to both companies are attached to this
correspondence; I can provide the objections filed by CoreCivic and GEO upon request.
Thank you for your time and attention in this regard. I encourage you to remain cynical with
respect to claims by private prison companies that they care about anything other than their
bottom line and their continued ability to profit from incarceration.

Sincerely,

Alex Friedmann
Associate Director, HRDC
Attachments

RESOLUTION
On Sept. 15, 2014, Corrections Corporation of America (“the Company”) announced that
it will expand reentry programs at the Company’s facilities.
CCA president Damon Hininger pledged that CCA “would play a larger role in helping
reduce the nation’s high recidivism rate,” noting that “Reentry programs and reducing
recidivism are 100 percent aligned with our business model.”1
Recidivism rates for released prisoners are extremely high, with almost 77 percent of
offenders being re-arrested within five years of release.2
The need to reduce recidivism rates for offenders held in the Company’s facilities is
particularly important, as two recent studies concluded that prisoners housed at privatelyoperated prisons have higher recidivism rates.
A 2013 Minnesota study determined “that offenders who had been incarcerated in a
private prison had a greater hazard of recidivism in all 20 models, and the recidivism risk
was significantly greater in eight of the models.”3
A 2008 study of Oklahoma prisoners in public and private prisons found “a significantly
greater hazard of recidivism among private prison inmates in six of the eight models
tested.... In every categorical model (including the two that were non-significant), private
prison inmate groups had a greater hazard of recidivism than did public inmate groups.”4
Although the Company provides rehabilitative programs at its facilities, such programs
are typically required by the terms of the Company’s contracts with government
agencies. This resolution provides an opportunity for CCA 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.
RESOLVED: That the stockholders of the Company request that the Board of Directors
adopt the following policy to be implemented beginning in fiscal year 2015, for the
purpose of reducing recidivism for offenders in the Company’s facilities:
1.
That by the end of the third quarter of each fiscal year, the Company shall expend
funds equal to five percent (5%) of the Company’s net income for the prior fiscal year on
programs and services designed to reduce recidivism rates for offenders in the Company’s
correctional facilities.

1

http://www.cca.com/press-releases/corrections-corporation-of-america-to-enhance-and-expand-reentryprogramming-opportunities-that-reduce-recidivism
2
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rprts05p0510.pdf
3
www.doc.state.mn.us/pages/files/9613/9206/2382/MN_Private_Prison_Evaluation_Website_Final.pdf
4
https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2009/dec/15/private-prisons-dont-make-better-prisoners/

2.
That the expenditure of the funds specified in Section 1 shall be in addition
to any funds the Company already spends, intends to spend or is required to spend on
rehabilitative or reentry programs and services pursuant to the Company’s contracts with
government agencies.
3.
That the expenditure of the funds specified in Section 1 may be used to expand
rehabilitative programs or services already provided in the Company’s correctional
facilities; to establish new rehabilitative programs or services; or as donations to nonprofit organizations that provide rehabilitative or reentry programs and services for
prisoners or released prisoners.
4.
That the Company shall expend the funds specified in Section 1 proportionally
among the Company’s correctional facilities that are in active operation (vacant facilities
not included), with such funds prorated according to each active facility’s average daily
population at the end of the prior fiscal year.

RESOLUTION
Recidivism rates for prisoners released from correctional facilities are extremely high,
with almost 77 percent of offenders being re-arrested within five years of release. 1
The need to reduce recidivism rates for offenders held in the Company’s facilities is of
particular importance, as two recent studies concluded that prisoners housed at privatelyoperated facilities have higher average recidivism rates.
A 2013 Minnesota study determined “that offenders who had been incarcerated in a
private prison had a greater hazard of recidivism in all 20 models, and the recidivism risk
was significantly greater in eight of the models.” 2
A 2008 study of Oklahoma prisoners in public and private prisons found “a significantly
greater hazard of recidivism among private prison inmates in six of the eight models
tested.... In every categorical model (including the two that were non-significant), private
prison inmate groups had a greater hazard of recidivism than did public inmate groups.” 3
Although the Company provides rehabilitative programs for prisoners at its facilities,
such programs are typically required by the terms of the Company’s contracts with
government agencies. This resolution 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.

RESOLVED: That the stockholders of the Company request that the Board of Directors
adopt the following policy to be implemented by GEO Group beginning in fiscal year
2015, for the purpose of reducing recidivism rates for offenders in the Company’s
facilities:
1.
That by the end of the third quarter of each fiscal year, the Company shall expend
funds equal to five percent (5%) of the Company’s net income for the prior fiscal year on
programs and services designed to reduce recidivism rates for offenders in the Company’s
correctional facilities. For the purposes of this resolution, “net income” shall include net
income received by the Company from both its U.S. and international operations.
2.
That the expenditure of the funds specified in Section 1 shall be in addition
to any funds the Company already spends, intends to spend or is required to spend on
rehabilitative or reentry programs and services pursuant to the Company’s contracts with
government agencies.

1

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rprts05p0510.pdf
www.doc.state.mn.us/pages/files/9613/9206/2382/MN_Private_Prison_Evaluation_Website_Final.pdf
3
https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2009/dec/15/private-prisons-dont-make-better-prisoners/
2

3.
That the expenditure of the funds specified in Section 1 may be used to expand
or enhance rehabilitative programs or services already provided in the Company’s
correctional facilities; to establish new rehabilitative programs or services; or as
donations to non-profit organizations that provide rehabilitative or reentry programs and
services for prisoners or released prisoners.
4.
That the Company shall expend the funds specified in Section 1 proportionally
among the Company’s correctional facilities that are in active operation (vacant facilities
not included), with such funds prorated according to each active facility’s average daily
population at the end of the prior fiscal year.
5.
That the provisions of this resolution shall apply to the Company’s correctional
facilities both in the United States and internationally.

 

 

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