- As reported by Amnesty International, the ACLU, NPR, Social Policy, and The Nation, the private prison industry lobbies for anti-immigrant legislation in order to build more immigration detention facilities, fill beds, and turn a profit. GEO is associated with the lobbying group, ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which helped draft Arizona's anti-immigrant SB1070 legislation, and, after it passed, gave funds to 83% of the legislators who voted for it. From 2003 to 2012, GEO spent more than $2 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in Florida alone. From 2004 to 2012, it spent $2.7 million lobbying the federal government. In its 2010 SEC filings, GEO stated that "Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state and local level could materially adversely impact us" (p. 34). As one of the top 50 graduates of Hispanic students in the nation, FAU is supporting a company that supports laws that detain and deport its students' families.
- GEO lobbies for harsh sentencing laws for non-violent offenses, which have led to mass incarceration of people of color. The US imprisons more people than any country in the world. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated in their lifetime, most for non-violent drug crimes, leading some to call the prison system "the new Jim Crow." GEO is affiliated with the business lobbying group, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), which has drafted 85 model bills and resolutions that required tougher criminal sentencing, expanded immigration enforcement and promoted prison privatization. GEO is transparent that its business model depends on mass incarceration, stating in its 2010 SEC filing, "the demand for our correctional and detention facilities and services...could be adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws" (p. 34). The Nation magazine has called FAU's stadium "Ground Zero in the Fight Against the New Jim Crow."
Other sources: Fact sheet from the NAACP, Infographic on The New Jim Crow
- GEO has a disturbing record of human rights violations not only in the legislation it supports, but also in its facilities. In one facility in Mississippi alone, GEO was responsible for rampant physical and sexual abuse of minors and adult prisoners and denial of medical care. The judge who ruled against GEO in Mississippi said "The sum of these actions and inactions… paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world." Geo claims it was not managing the facility in Mississippi when these reports were made, but this is a lie: the ACLU has the real timeline here. Another independent report on a different GEO facility in Mississippi also found that it limited, and at times denied, healthcare (p.6).These Human Rights abuses may be caused by GEO’s attempt to cut costs: “Privately managed prisons attempt to control costs by regularly providing lower levels of staff benefits, salary, and salary advancement than publicly-run facilities (equal to about $5,327 less in annual salary for new recruits and $14,901 less in maximum annual salaries). On average, private prison employees also receive 58 hours less training than their publicly employed counterparts. Consequently, there are higher employee turnover rates in private prisons than in publicly operated facilities” (source). Further, low pay and turnover may “contribute to the higher levels of violence seen in the private sector” (source).
Other sources:Sourced fact sheet, Interviews with Viridiana from Dream Activist