GEO Group

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The GEO Group, Inc.
Public (NYSEGEO)
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. GEO Group facilities include maximum, medium and minimum security prisons, immigration detention centers, minimum security detention centers and mental health and residential treatment 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 then sold CSC's juvenile services division back to CSC's former CEO, James Slattery, for $3.75 million; this acquisition would then become 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]


As of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012, GEO managed 96 facilities totaling approximately 73,000 beds worldwide, including 65,949 active beds and 6,056 idle beds. The company had an average facility occupancy rate of 95.7% for 2012.[7]

The GEO Group owns and operates the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, the Aurora Detention Facility[8] and the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, all under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Other GEO Group facilities include the Reeves County Detention Complex, both of which are in Texas; and the Junee Correctional Centre of New South Wales, Australia.[9]

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. 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, all of which is currently conducted in the U.S. GEO's Facility construction and design segment primarily consists of contracts with various state, local and federal agencies for the design and construction of facilities for which GEO has been awarded management contracts.[7]

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.[10][11] In April, after pressure from protestors, GEO Group withdrew its $6 million gift to Florida Atlantic University.[12]


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.[13][14] In 2009, GEO appealed the court's decision, and a verdict of $42.5 million was upheld.[15]

On April 24, 2007, inmates rioted for two hours at the GEO Group's New Castle Correctional Facility in Indiana, resulting in fires and minor injuries to staff and inmates.[16] 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 contributed to a lack of experience among prison staff, but held the inmates responsible for the riot. The riot prompted Indiana to suspend further transfers of Arizona inmates, pending measures to help out-of-state inmates adjust to Indiana prison policies, and to ensure inmates are transferred more gradually.[17]

Between 2005 and 2009, at least eight people died at the GEO Group-operated George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, the state's only privately run jail. Several of those deaths resulted in lawsuits by family members, who said the facility did not provide adequate medical care or proper supervision for offenders. On December 31, 2008, GEO pulled out of operations at this facility, "citing underperformance and frequent litigations".[18]

In 2007, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) fired seven employees after discovering inmates at the GEO-run Coke County Juvenile Justice Center living in "deplorable conditions."[19] 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 contract with GEO, and subsequently closed the facility. GEO had run the facility since 1994.[20][21]

In November 2010, plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit against GEO and the state agencies that operated and owned the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (YCF), saying that the prison authorities allowed abuses, high rates of violence, and negligence to occur. The lawsuit states that prison guards engaged in sexual intercourse with the prisoners and smuggled illegal drugs into the facilities, and that prison authorities denied education and medical care. As of that month the prison had about 1,200 prisoners ages 13–22; the lawsuit said that half of the prisoners were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.[22]

Weeks prior to the filing of the lawsuit, United States Department of Justice officials informed Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour that the department had started its own investigation concerning the prison.[23] Their report described the conditions there as "among the worst that we've seen in any facility anywhere in the nation," where poorly trained guards, some with gang affiliations, brutally beat youth and used excessive pepper spray, and showed deliberate indifference to prisoners possessing homemade knives, which were often used in gang fights and rapes.[24]

GEO and the state settled the lawsuit in February 2012. The state dropped GEO as a contractor, and it gave up management of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, where its operations for mentally ill inmates had been strongly criticized. The state in late 2012 moved the remaining youths from Walnut Grove to more suitable locations that conform to juvenile justice standards, including a separate unit at Central Mississippi Correctional Center. It converted Walnut Grove to an adult-only prison, operating under review by a court monitor.[25]

Former Walnut Grove mayor William Grady Sims resigned from his town office after pleading guilty to charges stemming from his employment as warden at WGYCF between 2009 and 2010. He pleaded guilty to removing a female inmate to a motel for sex in 2009 and pressuring her to lie about it to investigators. As part of his plea agreement, he was sentenced to seven months in Federal prison, with two years under parole supervision.[26] Sims also owned 18 vending machines inside the prison that generated income for him.[27]

In July 2012, two undocumented immigrants in Florida turned themselves in to police, knowing that they would be transported to and housed in GEO's Broward Transitional Center, a 720-bed facility in Pompano Beach, Florida.[28] It is the only privately owned immigration detention center in Florida.[29] Their intention was to report on the conditions inside the facility firsthand;[30] these anecdotal reports included "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." 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.[31]

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.[32] 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."[33] Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson announced it would be looking at prison REITs usage of detaining immigrants in their facilities.[34] As of 2015, GEO Groups operated 26 federal prison centers. These centers have a capacity was 35,692 prisoners making up 45% of its revenue.[34]

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. ^ a b "2012 Annual Report" (PDF). GEO Group. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  8. ^ 'Denver Contract Detention Facility', U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Locations". GEO Group. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Kirkham, Chris (19 February 2013). "Florida Atlantic Football Stadium Will Be Named For Private Prison Company". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  12. ^ "GEO Group withdraws naming rights gift for FAU Stadium". CBS Sports. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Perez-Trevino, Emma. "Grand jury moves forward in GEO case". The Brownsville Herald. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "$42 Million verdict upheld against GEO Group". Pro 8 News. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "WACKENHUT CORRECTIONS CORPORATION v. LA ROSA". Court of Appeals of Texas,Corpus Christi-Edinburg. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Indiana prison riot quelled". USA Today. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  17. ^ Wilson, Charles (2007-05-24). "Report Details Cause of Ind. Prison Riot". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  18. ^ Rose, Alex. "A changing of the guard at county prison". Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  19. ^ "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. 
  20. ^ Whittaker, Richard. "Another TYC Prison in Trouble". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  21. ^ Pope, Dimitria. "Coke County Juvenile Justice Center Audit" (PDF). Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  22. ^ Byrd, Sheila. Suit attacks conditions at Miss. juvenile lockup. Associated Press at Tuesday November 16, 2010.
  23. ^ Mitchell, Jerry. "Private prison firm sued." The Clarion Ledger. November 17, 2010. Retrieved on November 22, 2010.
  24. ^ Burnett, John. "Miss. Prison Operator Out; Facility Called A 'Cesspool'". Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  25. ^ Mohr, Holbrook. "Groups say deal reached in juvenile prison lawsuit". Associated Press. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  26. ^ Former Mayor of Walnut Grove Sentenced for Witness Tampering, Federal Bureau of Investigation, April 24, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  27. ^ Gates, Jimmy E. "Former Walnut Grove Mayor Pleads Guilty In Inmate Sex Case." The Clarion Ledger. Tuesday February 14, 2012. Retrieved on February 28, 2012.
  28. ^ "Locations: Broward Transitional Center". The GEO Group, Inc. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  29. ^ O'Matz, Megan (2013-01-05). "Immigrants with no criminal history get lengthy stays at little-known jail". Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "Dream Activist Speaks from Broward Detention Center". DemocracyNow!. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  31. ^ Ordonez, Franco (2012-10-05). "Democrats demand investigation in case of Florida immigration detainees". McClatchy Newspapers. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  32. ^ Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons, Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky & Chico Harlan, August 8, 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  33. ^ Reducing Our Use of Private Prisons, United States Department of Justice, Sally Q. Yates, August 18, 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  34. ^ a b "Feds Slam Prison REITs Again - CoStar Group". Retrieved 2016-08-31. 

External links[edit]