GEO Group

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The GEO Group, Inc.
Traded as NYSEGEO
S&P 600 Component
Industry Outsourced correctional services
Predecessor The Wackenhut Corporation
Founded 1984 (as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC))
Founder George Zoley
Headquarters 621 NW 53rd St.
Boca Raton, Florida, US[1]
Area served
South Africa
United Kingdom
Key people
George Zoley
(Chairman) & (CEO)
Revenue Increase $ 1.61 billion (2011) [2]
Increase $ 192.2 million (2011) [2]
Increase $ 77.5 million (2011) [2]
Total assets Increase $ 3.049 billion (2011) [2]
Total equity Decrease $ 1.039 billion (2011) [2]
Number of employees
20,000- 2011[3]
Subsidiaries GEO Care, Inc.
The GEO Group Australia
GEO Transportation, Inc.
The GEO Group UK Ltd.
The headquarters of the GEO Group in Boca Raton, Florida
GEO Transport

The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO) is a Florida-based company specializing in corrections, detention and mental health treatment. It maintains facilities in North America, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. In 2015 the GEO Group's federal contracts with the United States government for operating prisons generated about 45% of its revenues. GEO Group facilities include prisons of all three security levels, immigration detention centers, minimum-security detention centers, and mental health and residential treatment facilities. It owns numerous facilities and, in other cases, operates state or federal facilities under contract.

The company has been the subject of civil suits in the United States by prisoners and families of prisoners for injuries due to riots and poor treatment at prisons and immigrant detention facilities which it has operated. In addition, due to settlement of a class-action suit in 2012 for its management of a Mississippi juvenile facility, the largest in the nation, the GEO Group lost this state contract. Related federal investigations of kickback and bribery schemes associated with nearly $1 billion in Mississippi state contracts for prisons and related services have resulted in the criminal prosecution of several public officials there.

In August 2016 the US Department of Justice announced its intention to phase out contracts with privately operated prisons. The US Department of Homeland Security said it was reviewing its contracts with private firms, which operate several immigrant detention facilities.


Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC) was formed as a division of The Wackenhut Corporation (now a subsidiary of G4S Secure Solutions) in 1984. It was incorporated as a Wackenhut subsidiary in 1988. In July 1994, WCC became a separately traded public company. In 2003, WCC management raised funds to repurchase all common stock held by G4S, changing its name to The GEO Group, Inc.[4]

In 2005, the GEO Group acquired Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) for US$62 million in cash, and assumed $124 million of that company's debt.

GEO sold CSC's juvenile services division in 2005 to James Slattery, CSC's former CEO, for $3.75 million. Slattery renamed this business as Slattery's Youth Services International.[5]

On August 12, 2010, the GEO Group acquired Cornell Companies, formerly Cornell Corrections, for $730 million in stock and cash.[6]


In 2010, the company was reported to operate more than a dozen facilities in the state of Texas, and nearly three dozen in the rest of the United States. In addition to prison facilities operated under contract with U.S. states, the GEO Group owns and operates the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, the Aurora Detention Facility[7] and the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, all under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012, GEO managed 96 facilities worldwide totaling approximately 73,000 beds, including 65,949 active beds and 6,056 idle beds. The company had an average facility occupancy rate of 95.7% for 2012.[8]

Other GEO Group facilities include the Reeves County Detention Complex, a three-part complex in Texas described as the largest private prison in the world. It houses more than 3700 inmates, most immigrants held in low-level crimes before being deported after serving their sentences. Riots here by prisoners in 2008 and 2009 because of poor conditions resulted in more than $21 million in damages.[9] [10]

Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, Queensland, Australia

Internationally, in 2010 GEO operated a total of another 10 facilities in Australia, England, South Africa, and Cuba. [9] As of 2016, subsidiary GEO Group Australia operated four prisons (Junee Correctional Centre,[10] Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre,[11] Parklea Correctional Centre, and Fulham Correctional Centre[12]), with a fifth facility expected to open in late 2017.[13]

In the U.K., GEO Group's sole facility is the Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre, expanded in 2013 to hold 249 detainees, male and female.[14] In 2004 the Children's Commissioner for Scotland described conditions at the facility as "morally upsetting" and threatened to report the UK and Scottish Governments to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.[15]

GEO Group operation of the Migrant Operations Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which began in 2006, ended in 2012.[16] [17]

Business segments[edit]

GEO conducts its business through four business segments: U.S. corrections segment; International services segment; GEO Care segment; and Facility construction and design segment. The U.S. corrections segment primarily encompasses GEO's U.S.-based privatized corrections and detention business for federal and state authorities.

The International services segment primarily consists of GEO's privatized corrections and detention operations in South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom. International services reviews opportunities to further diversify into related foreign-based governmental-outsourced services on an ongoing basis.

The GEO Care segment, which is operated by GEO's wholly owned subsidiary GEO Care, Inc., comprises GEO's privatized mental health and residential treatment services business. As of 2016, it conducts this business in the US only.

GEO's Facility construction and design segment primarily consists of contracts with various state, local and federal agencies for the design and construction of prison and related facilities for which GEO has been awarded management contracts.[8]

Public relations[edit]

In February 2013, the GEO Group's private foundation pledged US$6 million to company founder George Zoley's alma mater, Florida Atlantic University. In return, the GEO Group received naming rights to the university's football stadium.[18][19] In April, after pressure from protesters, GEO Group withdrew its $6 million naming rights gift to Florida Atlantic University.[20]

Incidents and investigations[edit]

In 2001, an inmate was murdered at GEO's Willacy County State Jail in Texas by two other inmates. In 2006, GEO was sued by the man's family, and found liable for $47.5 million for destruction of evidence and negligently causing the man's death.[21][22] In 2009, GEO appealed the court's decision; the appeals court upheld a verdict and damages of $42.5 million.[23]

On April 24, 2007, inmates rioted for two hours at the GEO Group's state-owned New Castle Correctional Facility in Indiana. The riot resulted in fires and minor injuries to staff and inmates.[24] The Indiana Department of Correction concluded that its recent transfer of 600 inmates over six weeks from Arizona to a new section at New Castle increased tensions at the facility, as the inmates comprised a large group and prison staff had a lack of experience. The Department held the inmates responsible for the riot. Following the riot, Indiana authorities suspended further transfers of Arizona inmates, pending measures to help out-of-state inmates adjust to Indiana prison policies, and to ensure that inmates were transferred more gradually in order to be able to integrate them into the prison population at New Castle.[25]

Between 2005 and 2009, at least eight people died at the GEO Group-operated George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, that state's only privately run jail. Following those deaths, family members filed lawsuits against the company and facility, saying that it did not provide adequate medical care or proper supervision for offenders. On December 31, 2008, GEO pulled out of operations and dropped this facility, "citing underperformance and frequent litigations."[26]

In 2007, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) fired seven employees responsible for monitoring prison conditions after discovering that the GEO-run Coke County Juvenile Justice Center had "deplorable conditions." Those seven employees had earlier worked directly for GEO.[27] The monitors had failed to report problems at the county facility, but an inspection by the TYC found the facility to be understaffed, ill-managed, and unsanitary. The TYC ordered that all inmates be transferred elsewhere, terminated their state contract with GEO, and subsequently closed the facility. GEO had run the facility since 1994.[28][29]

In 2008 and 2009, prisoners at the Reeves County Detention Complex in Texas, the largest privately owned prison in the United States, rioted over poor conditions. The complex houses more than 3700 prisoners, mostly immigrants serving short sentences prior to deportation. They caused damages of $1 million and $21 million respectively, as the second riot resulted in a severe fire.[9]

A class-action suit was filed in 2010 against state authorities and GEO over conditions at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, the largest juvenile facility in the United States.[30] Settlement of the suit in 2012 required the state to end its contract with GEO, and put operations at the facility under a federal court monitor. The state transferred juvenile offenders to more suitable state facilities that complied with standards of juvenile care.[31]

In July 2012, two undocumented immigrants in Florida turned themselves in to police, with the expectation that they would be transported to and housed in GEO's Broward Transitional Center, a 720-bed facility in Pompano Beach, Florida that holds immigration detainees.[32] It is the only privately owned immigration detention center in Florida.[33] The pair intended to report firsthand on the conditions inside the facility, as there were many accounts in the immigrant community of substandard conditions.[34] The pair reported "substandard or callous medical care, including a woman taken for ovarian surgery and returned the same day, still bleeding, to her cell, and a man who urinated blood for days but wasn't taken to see a doctor."[35]

In response to these and other serious allegations, US Congressman Ted Deutch of Pompano Beach wrote a letter in September 2012 to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding the contract under which GEO operates the facility, requesting a case-by-case investigation. Twenty-five other congressional representatives signed on to the inquiry.[35]

Operation Mississippi Hustle[edit]

A federal investigation, dubbed Operation Mississippi Hustle, was initiated in 2014 or earlier by the United States Attorney and prosecuted in the United States Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. It has examined the relationship between officials of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and local jurisdictions, and various prison contractors and subcontractors. The investigation resulted in indictments against the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, who resigned from his state office and as president of the American Correctional Association, and the longtime mayor of Walnut Grove, who also resigned. By 2016, indictments for corruption had been issued against eight other officials, consultants, and contractors.

End of U.S. federal contracts[edit]

On August 18, 2016, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates announced that the Justice Department intended to end its Bureau of Prisons contracts with for-profit prison operators, because it concluded "...the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services..." than the Federal Bureau of Prisons.[36] In a memorandum, Yates continued, for-profit "...prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities. They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department's Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security. The rehabilitative services that the Bureau provides, such as educational programs and job training, have proved difficult to replicate and outsource and these services are essential to reducing recidivism and improving public safety."[37]

Then Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson announced his department would be reviewing its contracts with prison REITs related to detention of immigrants in their privately owned facilities.[38] As of 2015, GEO Groups operated 26 federal prison centers, for the departments of both Justice and Homeland Security. These centers had a total capacity of 35,692 prisoners, representing 45% of the company's revenue.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "GEO: Locations". The GEO Group, Inc. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e 2011 Annual Report The Geo Group. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  3. ^ "About Us". The Geo Group. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Historic Milestones". GEO Group. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  5. ^ "Juvenile correctional services business acquired". Tampa Bay Business Journal. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Paez, Pablo E. (2010-08-12). "The GEO Group Closes $730 Million Merger with Cornell Companies" (Press release). Boca Raton, Florida: GEO Group. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 
  7. ^ 'Denver Contract Detention Facility', U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  8. ^ a b "2012 Annual Report" (PDF). GEO Group. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Peter Gorman, "Private Prisons, Public Pain", Fort Worth Weekly, 10 March 2010; accessed 10 February 2017
  10. ^ a b "Locations". GEO Group. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre". Queensland Corrective Services. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  12. ^ Downsley, Anthon; Buttler, Mark (17 January 2012). "Prison riot rocks Fulham Correctional Centre in Sale". Melbourne Herald Sun. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  13. ^ "Ravenhall Prison Project". Corrections Victoria. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  14. ^ "Dungavel House Immigration Removal Centre". GEO Group. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  15. ^ "Dungavel Detention Centre 12 July 2004". House of Commons Debate archive. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "Private Prison Company Gets Haiti Contract". Center for Economic and Policy Research. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  17. ^ Dastyari, Azadeh (20 July 2015). United States Migrant Interdiction and the Detention of Refugees in Guantánamo Bay. Cambridge University Press. p. 174 n. 13. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  18. ^ Bishop, Greg (19 February 2013). "A Company That Runs Prisons Will Have Its Name on a Stadium". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Kirkham, Chris (19 February 2013). "Florida Atlantic Football Stadium Will Be Named For Private Prison Company". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  20. ^ "GEO Group withdraws naming rights gift for FAU Stadium". CBS Sports. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  21. ^ Perez-Trevino, Emma. "Grand jury moves forward in GEO case". The Brownsville Herald. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "$42 Million verdict upheld against GEO Group". Pro 8 News. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "WACKENHUT CORRECTIONS CORPORATION v. LA ROSA". Court of Appeals of Texas,Corpus Christi-Edinburg. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Indiana prison riot quelled". USA Today. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  25. ^ Wilson, Charles (2007-05-24). "Report Details Cause of Ind. Prison Riot". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  26. ^ Rose, Alex (4 January 2009). "A changing of the guard at county prison". Delco Times. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  27. ^ "Fired TYC monitors had worked for facility's operator: Group fired for failing to report conditions at W. Texas facility was employed earlier by GEO Group". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  28. ^ Whittaker, Richard. "Another TYC Prison in Trouble". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  29. ^ Pope, Dimitria. "Coke County Juvenile Justice Center Audit" (PDF). Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  30. ^ "Re: Investigation of the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice: Civil Rights Division. Retrieved 3 March 2013.  (Archive)
  31. ^ Mohr, Holbrook "Associated Press, "Groups Say Deal Reached in Juvenile Prison Suit"," Sun Herald, 27 February 2012. Retrieved on February 28, 2012.
  32. ^ "Locations: Broward Transitional Center". The GEO Group, Inc. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  33. ^ O'Matz, Megan (2013-01-05). "Immigrants with no criminal history get lengthy stays at little-known jail". Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  34. ^ "Dream Activist Speaks from Broward Detention Center". DemocracyNow!. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  35. ^ a b Ordonez, Franco (2012-10-05). "Democrats demand investigation in case of Florida immigration detainees". McClatchy Newspapers. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  36. ^ Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons, Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky & Chico Harlan, August 8, 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  37. ^ Reducing Our Use of Private Prisons, United States Department of Justice, Sally Q. Yates, August 18, 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  38. ^ a b "Feds Slam Prison REITs Again - CoStar Group". Retrieved 2016-08-31. 

External links[edit]