Friday, April 29, 2011

GEO Group and the Big Prison industry

What happens if you privatize prisons is that you have a large industry with a vested interest in building ever-more prisons.” -- Molly Ivins (Pulitzer prize-winning Reporter and author), 2003

I have never cared much for the stock market. I am usually more concerned with ERAs than IRAs, and Fox Sports than Fox Business. However, two things piqued my sudden interest in that otherwise dull subject: crooked lobbyist Ron Book lobbying for expanding private prisons in South Florida, and seeing billboards in Texas advertising for GEO Group.

What is GEO Group? GEO Group, once known as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, is a private prison business. A for-profit industry. A private prison with stock you can buy. Amazingly enough, GEO Group's stock is actually on par or higher than many other high-profile companies that many of us actually use every day:

Stock Quotes as of April 29, 2011
GEO Group, Private Prison Industry -- 26.68
GE, Appliance and mechanics industry -- 20.45
Pfizer, Prescription drugs -- 20.97
Ford, car maker -- 15.47
Microsoft, computer software -- 25.92
Yahoo! Search engine -- 17.46
Kroger, grocery stores -- 24.31
(as an aside, GEO is beating Corrections Corporation of America, its larger rival -- 24.89)

Interestingly, GEO Group's stock jumped significantly from about 5.00 back in 2003, spiked over 30.00 in late 2007, dropped as low as 14.00 in 2009, and now it is nearly at 30.00 again as of writing this article.

What's the big deal about privatizing prisons? You ask? Think about that quote by Molly Ivins.

First off, in any industry, there are businesses available that compete for your money. Now, I admit economics is not my forte. However, I know that Wal-Mart has been given a reputation of being the big bully company that wipes out small town businesses and imposing a monopoly in many small towns across the USA. GEO Group is growing. It has acquired Correctional Service Corporation in 2005, Cornell Corrections in 2010, and Behavioral Interventions (an electronic monitoring company) in 2011.

Being the lowest bidder generally means cutting corners. GEO Group has amassed over half a million in fines alone while maintaining a severely understaffed facility and paying guards just a cut above minimum wage. There have been been numerous complaints of inmate abuse and poor conditions in the private prisons, but since they are "just prison inmates, who cares, right? Getting back to Ron Book's South Florida, when GEO Group was known as Wackenhut, the state was overcharged by millions, which all came out of taxpayer wallets. In fact, the former Florida head of Wackenhut was recently arrested for racketeering. Considering Ron Book's track record of corruption and controversy, it is no surprise he lobbies for such a group. What's next? Maybe he'll represent the Bad News Bengals next.

Who cares, right? Think about it. The US has the largest prison population in the world in terms of numbers and per capita rates. An astounding 3.1% of adults in the US have criminal records, and one out of every 99 US adults are incarcerated right now. It is little wonder why prison is a big industry; after in, in many states, spending on prisons compete or exceed the funding for education. Most of these people are going to get out only to be socially ostracized to the point where committing crimes become almost a necessary survival component. There is no incentive to rehabilitate the offender, because no repeat customers is bad for the industry. You merely make a prisoner a better criminal. That, my friends, is Capitalism at its finest.

Feel free to check out the following sites for more on the pitfalls of privatization of the prison system:

As an aside, I wonder why the USA only tends to rank high on the bad stats. We are getting beat in many positive areas by European nations. Norway's prisons are so much unlike America's prisons. I wonder why Norway's crime rate is so much lower than ours. Could it be tough on crime is backfiring?


  1. Excellent article here! These for-profit prisons are out of control. Their sole interest is in recruiting new clients, by pushing for harsher penalties on non-violent offenders. I recently saw the stat from the NAACP stating that America has 5% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners! We are making criminals out of people for monetary gain, that's insane! Also interesting that you point out the guard's wages, which are basically the same as most Wal-Mart employees.

    Thanks for posting. I'll link to this page from my blog to help raise awareness.

  2. Odd you just had a guy blow away 85 children and 10 people by a bomb and he is going to get 21 years. Justify that. I am not saying the US System is best but getting 100 days per person for the execution style mass murder show deep flaws in your system also. Stop justifying your imperfect system by comparing it to another imperfect system. Your article is flawed as of last Friday.

  3. Where do you figure that is going to happen? They haven't even made any mention of proposed penalties for this man. You are as insane as the Norway bomber.

    The US has one of the toughest justice systems in the world yet we have one of the most violent cultures. Despite the recent bombing in Norway, they are STILL far superior to the US. There is no "perfect" system but the US system is beyond flawed, it is flat out corrupted. Timothy McVeigh was home grown, by the way.

  4. the communist state capitalist system relies on for profit prisons, also known as gulaghs or concentration camps. a controlled low standard of living is injected into the system by false means and under the guise of economic recovery, these programs are almost always called "reform" and have very negative consequences for society as a whole, such as masses of women and children going homeless. next they would undoubtedly support illegal immigration ( usually they don't supporting openly but will say things like "illegals pay taxes and get no money back" ). let's recap, reform policies force more people onto the workforce, coupled with illegal immigration and moving jobs into a communist slave nation like for instance China where the wage is so low we here couldn't possibly compete. this causes wages to decrease and demand becomes unbareable until we can barely afford the ever rising cost of living. after the controlled low standard of living is created, they then must inject yet another form of ideological subversion this time directed at the new cast b or poor. this new ideology "gangsterism" appears to the young and vulnerable psyche as if it is a way out of the low standard of living and is made to look that way by media icons who are sponsored by communist corporations. after you break the law and enter their for profit prison or gulagh as they are known in Russia, they have all then slaves they need for forced labor, and the state begins to profit exponentially. please feel free to contact me at any time. my email address is I will be glad to answer any of your questions and remember, "Education defeats subversion" - Edward Hunter.