Say No to GEO and CCA!
On Tuesday May 7th, The GEO Group is holding its annual shareholders meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, to protests by the local community. On the same day, in Washington DC, a coalition of social justice groups are protesting the the 30th anniversary of the Corrections Corporation of America. The two largest private prison companies in the world, GEO and CCA profit from locking people up, and are paid by the state and federal government, per head for each person in their facilities. In order to increase their profits, these companies have successfully pushed legislation that increase rates of detention and incarceration, resulting in the US incarceration rate, which is the highest in the world. We call on GEO and CCA to transparently disclose their lobbying efforts, and on all members of congress to stop accepting funds from private prison lobbyists.
The number of people imprisoned under state and federal custody increased 772% percent between 1970 and 2009, due to GEO and CCA’s lobbying efforts. GEO spent approximately $880,000 in 2010 and 2011 on direct federal lobbying activities. GEO also lobbies at the state level with at least 126 lobbyists in 23 states between 2003 and 2011 lobbying for harsher immigration enforcement policies, drug laws, and sentencing laws that put a skyrocketing number of people behind bars, and particularly target communities of color. Due primarily to mandatory sentencing laws for non-violent drug crimes that leave judges and jurors little power in the sentencing process, 1 in 3 black men can expect to be incarcerated throughout his lifetime. As members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), CCA has been instrumental in drafting 85 model bills and resolutions over the past 2 decades, that require tougher criminal sentencing, expand immigration enforcement and promote prison privatization. As reported by NPR, ALEC drafted Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 legislation that enables police officers to arbitrarily stop and detain people of color, and, after it passed, gave funds to 83% of the legislators who voted for it.
As legislators debate Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) legislation, we particularly wish to draw attention to GEO’s statement in its 2010 SEC filings: “The demand for our correctional and detention facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts…Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state and local level could materially adversely impact us.” According to
opensecrets. org, GEO is one of the top contributors to Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer, two of the 8 legislators drafting CIR, likely in order to ensure that immigrant detention rates stay high after CIR passes. America’s immigration policy should not be in the hands of companies whose profits increase with the number of people they lock up, and the number of families they divide.
For the sake of our communities, our families, and our country, we call on GEO and CCA to be transparent and accountable for their efforts to legislate injustice, and that legislators do not allow these prison profiteers to influence the process:
As organizations of concerned citizens, social justice activists and people of many faiths, we sign this letter in support of the GEO shareholders’ resolution, to be presented at their shareholder meeting, calling for an annual disclosure of lobbying information. Like the shareholders, “we encourage transparency and accountability in the use of staff time and corporate funds to influence legislation and regulation both directly and indirectly.”
We also call on all members of congress to preserve our democracy by pledging to reject all donations by GEO, CCA and ALEC.