On April 22, 2015, members of the Anti-Registry Movement will be at the Florida State House at the corner of Monroe and Alapachee in Tallahassee, FL. We will be protesting the efforts of the Book family as they help promote Florida's "Scorched Earth" policy.
There are many reasons to protest the Book family, but there is one major detail that most of us have not considered. At last year's event, Gov. Rick Scott gave his blessing to Lauren's Kids. Rick Scott is a major supporter of the private prison industry, so much so he hosted a $10,000-per-seat fundraiser at the home of GEO Group's president, who lives in Boca Raton. A number of people protested Scott's fundraiser because they understand just how bad private prisons run by GEO group can be.
Last November, Lauren Book opened a political committee called Leadership for Broward. It had raised $423,750 -- much of that from Ron Book's past and present clients, including the GEO Group, who donated $25,000. So Ron Book and Lauren both have connections with the GEO Group.
GEO Group has been immersed in a number of controversies over the years and has been sued hundreds of times. "Violence abuse and death" apparently run rampant in GEO Group private prisons. Perhaps one of the most egregious cases involves Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, sued in 2012 in federal court. Federal Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that the youth prison "has allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk."
Among the conditions described in a report against the facility in 2012:
- Prison staff had sex with incarcerated youth, which investigators called "among the worst that we've seen in any facility anywhere in the nation."
- Poorly trained guards brutally beat youth and used excessive pepper spray as a first response.
- The prison showed "deliberate indifference" to prisoners possessing homemade knives, which were used in gang fights and inmate rapes.
- Some guards had gang affiliations — a finding confirmed to NPR last year by former inmate Justin Bowling.
The former mayor of Walnut Grove was convicted of witness tampering after telling a female inmate not to rat him out for having sex with her. He served only seven months.
There are lots of lawsuits against GEO Group but this one stands out because of the level of sexual abuse rampant in this case. I want you to wrap your minds around the concept of Lauren Book, "Sexual Abuse Survivor/ Educator/ Advocate" pocketing $25,000 from a corporation that ran an institution with the most rampant sexual abuse cases in the entire nation! This is right up there with that Oprah Winfrey orphanage controversy from a few years ago.
This is also something that bothers me because I was inside a facility called the "Eufaula Adolescent Center" for a year, a place that was closed in 1996 for similar issues. My only reason for being sent to such a horrific place was because I was abandoned by my family as a teenager and became a ward of the state, and no foster homes would take teenage boys in my area. Thus, I was in this hellhole for over a year for no reason at all. I was not a juvenile delinquent, nor was I ever charged with a crime. Info on the facility is sparse, but over two decades later, I still remember the abuse and maltreatment I received at that place. My time there made me distrusting of the police and the courts. Imagine that-- a kid never in trouble with the law but dragged through the courts and the police simply for being abandoned. But I guess that does not matter to most people.
Lauren Book claims to stand up for children, yet she takes money from a corporation that abused children. That is hypocrisy at its finest. That is simply another reason I will be joining those protesting in Tallahassee on April 22.