Author Archives: dropgeo

Over 100 Converge at GEO Group’s 2015 Shareholder Meeting

Company denies hunger strike at Texas family detention facility

1782390_1582435648697865_8938063675109715697_oOn April 29th, over 100 people from across the country joined a protest outside the GEO Group’s annual shareholder meeting at the Boca Resort and Club. GEO, a private company, bills itself as the “largest provider of correctional services in the world.” Groups participating in the protest included the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) from Lake Worth, Florida and the Austin, Texas-based Grassroots Leadership.

HRDC associate director Alex Friedmann, an activist shareholder who owns a small number of shares of GEO Group stock, attended the meeting. When he asked about recent reports of hunger strikes by immigrant women held at the GEO Group-operated Karnes County Family Detention Center in Texas, he was informed by GEO Senior Vice President John J. Bulfin that there was no hunger strike; rather, he said it was a “boycott of dining facilities” at the detention facility.

GEO Group founder and CEO George C. Zoley further remarked that the women detained at Karnes awaiting asylum hearings “have a higher standard of living” than they had elsewhere, implying that they should be grateful for being incarcerated – along with their children – at the company’s for-profit detention center.

Grassroots Leadership has been organizing support for the immigrant families held at Karnes, as well as families incarcerated at another detention facility in Dilly, Texas operated by GEO Group competitor Corrections Corporation of America.

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“We know that GEO Group and other private prison companies thrive when they are able to obscure the truth about their business practices and what happens inside of their facilities,” said Kymberlie Quong Charles, Grassroots Leadership’s Director of Criminal Justice Programs. “We are here in solidarity with local South Florida communities to shine a light on the ugly reality of privatized incarceration and detention, and this particular company’s attitudes toward those they keep behind their bars. Our message to GEO’s shareholders is that no one should profit from incarceration.”

Also in attendance at the GEO Group protest were members of Florida Immigrant Coalition, students from DreamDefenders groups on campuses across Florida, Enlace International, and members from SEIU-Florida and the Palm Beach Environmental Coalition.

The protest included a street theatre performance by Dream Defenders members titled “GEO-o-poly,” based on the Monopoly board game, that depicted the connections between slavery and for-profit incarceration. Photos of the protest are posted here.

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According to Friedmann, during the GEO Group shareholder meeting the company lauded its performance over the past year, including “no major disturbances or operational problems” at its correctional and detention facilities. Further, GEO stated one of the company’s goals for 2015 was “organic growth” with new and existing clients. GEO currently receives 42% of its revenue from contracts with federal agencies, including the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Although GEO executives repeatedly cited efforts to increase rehabilitative programming in the company’s facilities, and an interest in becoming a “leader in offender rehabilitation,” in December 2014 GEO Group successfully objected to a shareholder resolution, submitted by HRDC associate director Alex Friedmann, that would have required the company to spend just 5% of its net income on programs and services designed to reduce recidivism rates for offenders in the company’s correctional facilities.

11054827_1582450688696361_6467860732047276869_o“At Grassroots Leadership, we believe no one should profit from the imprisonment of human beings,” said Kymberlie Quong Charles. “We live in the most incarcerated society in the history of the world. Every day we confront a prison industry that preys on pain because our addiction to locking people up dehumanizes all of us.”

News Coverage:

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The Human Rights Defense Center, founded in 1990, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in U.S. detention facilities. HRDC publishes Prison Legal News (PLN), a monthly magazine that includes reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners’ rights and criminal justice issues. PLN has around 9,000 subscribers nationwide and operates a website (www.prisonlegalnews.org) that includes a comprehensive database of prison and jail-related articles, news reports, court rulings, verdicts, settlements and related documents.

Grassroots Leadership (www.grassrootsleadership.org) fights to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education. Grassroots Leadership builds bridges between communities to increase the capacity of local leaders and coalitions, mobilize opposition to privatization, and transform the immigration and justice systems.

3rd Annual National Strategy Session to End Criminalization, Incarceration, & Immigration Enforcement

May 3-5, 2015 in Boca Raton, FL, Enlace’s Prison Divestment Campaign Steering Committee invites you to participate in a national convening to take the fight against criminalization, incarceration, and immigration enforcement to the next level. Be part of an effort to build a multiracial alliance and create proactive campaign strategies. Find out more and register for this event here.

The for-profit Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) provides the perfect vehicle to violently exploit, abuse, profit off and control communities of color and immigrants, and it is expanding. 1 in 3 black men already have a cage waiting for them. Drug and immigration offenses are landing an ever increasing number of people behind bars. So-called “Alternatives” to Detention and Prison are actually expansions: sending people home with electric shackles and intensive surveillance creates a prison at your home and community. The drug war that allowed 43 Mexican students to perish while Government and cartels in partnership got richer and more powerful, is very similar to the one between US politicians and multinational corporations, who together sanction the execution of young people of color and immigrants. Many are already organizing communities to defend themselves in this war. Incredible campaign work in immigrant rights, police brutality, racial justice and criminal justice movements continue to gain ground. State violence against communities of color is unified, and to create a liberatory future and present, we must be unified across race and issue lines in our organizing and strategy.

Video About GEO Group

Protest 4/29/15

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Protest the Prison Profiteers at GEO Group’s 2015 Shareholders Meeting

This month the GEO Shareholders will be coming to Boca Raton for their annual meeting! Join us in EXPOSING these shareholders to the truth behind their investment in GEO Group: profit at the expense of people.

8:00am, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Meet at us at 855 South Federal Highway Boca Raton, FL 33432

GEO Group is the second largest for-profit prison operator in the nation – and their headquarters is located in Boca Raton, FL. GEO makes millions of dollars every year off of our bodies and our communities…but only if the prison beds are filled.

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Mass Incarceration is an epidemic in this country:

  • The US has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners
  • 2.4 million people are incarcerated in the US. This is a 500% increase over the past 30 years
  • Black and Latino men make up more than 60% of the prison population, but only 15% of the male population in the US
  • One in 28 children have a parent behind bars
  • In 2013, 67% of all federal criminal convictions were for immigration-related crime
  • The US spent $80 Billion on incarceration in 2010 aloneThe GEO Group and other prison profiteers spend millions lobbying politicians to keep it that way, because they are getting rich off leaving people locked in cages.

GEO Shareholder Meeting 2013

The GEO Group held its annual shareholders meeting at the Breakers hotel in Palm Beach. About 20 South Florida activists assembled from 7:30 am to 9:30 am to demonstrate against GEO’s Group’s legislative lobbying activities and human rights abuses. Simultaneously, shareholder activists unaffiliated with the student protest proposed and advocated for a shareholders resolution calling for GEO to disclose its lobbying practices.

Michael Crosby, of the Midwest Capuchin Franciscans supported the resolution during the shareholders meeting. In his statement supporting the resolution Crosby explained that, “GEO group does not disclose its trade association memberships and payments, and shareholders have no way to know if our company is making payments that ultimately are used for lobbying contrary to shareholders’ interests.”

It was evident that many shareholders agreed that the lack of lobbying transparency was unacceptable, as the resolution received 32.3 % of the vote excluding abstentions. Additionally, Michael Crosby reports that the two largest holders of GEO stock, ISS and Glass Lewis both supported and cast their votes for the resolution.

In addition to the shareholder action, 29 local and national human rights groups signed a letter in support of the resolution, and calling for legislators to reject funds from private prison companies. The letter states, “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 on legislators to stop allowing these prison profiteers to influence the process.”

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GEO Shareholder Proposal Requesting Annual Disclosure of Lobbying Information

Shareholder Proposal Requesting Annual Disclosure of Lobbying Information 

The Congregation of St. Joseph, 1515 West Ogden Avenue, La Grange Park, IL, 60526, the beneficial owner of 200 shares of GEO common stock, The Sisters of Providence, 1801 Lind Avenue SW, #9016, Renton, WA 98057-9016, the beneficial owner of 120 shares of GEO common stock, The Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, 1015 North Ninth Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233, the beneficial owner of shares of GEO common stock valued at greater than $2,000, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA, 02108, the beneficial owner of shares of GEO common stock common stock valued at greater than $2,000, have submitted the following shareholder proposal. We are not responsible for the content of the shareholder proposal and the proponent’s supporting statement, which are presented below as they were submitted to us.

Whereas, corporate lobbying exposes our company to risks that could impact the company’s stated goals, objectives and ultimately shareholder value, and

Whereas, we rely on the information provided by our company to evaluate goals and objectives, and we, therefore, have a strong interest in full disclosure of our company’s lobbying to assess whether our company’s lobbying is consistent with its expressed goals and in the best interests of shareholders and long-term value.

Resolved, the shareholders of The GEO Group (“GEO”) request the Board authorize the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing:

  1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications
  2. Payments by GEO used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.
  3. GEO’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
  4. Description of the decision making process and oversight by the management and Board for making payments described in section 2 above

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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.

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VIDEO: TWAC occupies GEO headquarters

On April 9, 2013, dozens of activists from the previous week’s Trans and Womyn’s Action Camp (TWAC) descended on the national headquarters of GEO Group, a for-profit prison company with a record of shady lobbying deals and human rights violations.

TWAC Occupies For-Profit Prison Company “GEO Group” Headquarters

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On Tuesday morning, April 9, dozens of activists from this week’s Trans and Womyn’s Action Camp (TWAC) descended on the national headquarters for Geo Group, a for-profit prison company with a record of shady lobbying deals and human rights violations.

GEO Group Banner DropThe morning’s activities began when the trans and female activists entered the office.  Most began a song and dance singing, “Tearing families apart; Geo’s making money.  Lobbying for racist laws; Geo’s making money.  Locking up all our youth; Geo’s making money.”  Meanwhile, the four arrestees locked themselves to the office doors and three other activists dropped a 30 x 15 ft banner which read ‘Millions Behind Bars = Billions for Geo-Who’s the Real Criminal?” from the fourth floor of the building.  When Police arrived most of the protesters moved to public property to continue to rally as Police arrived with four trucks and three officer vehicles in a futile attempt to cut through the activists locks.  Police was told that they would unlock themselves if Geo CEO George Zoley would come to speak to them.  When the request was refused, the activists said they would unlock if police would let the media in.  Police refused and continued to restrict the media to a ‘staging’ area nearly a quarter mile away.  Eventually, the large handles to doors of the Geo office were removed in order to arrest the protesters.
TGI at protestOne of the protesters, a transgender woman from Liberia named Grace Lawrence who was held in immigrant detention centers from 2003-2006, explained why fighting against for-profit prisons and Geo Group is so important to her.  “In private detention centers, trans people are put in isolation, which is solitary confinement, for 23hours a day.” Grace was granted asylum, but she continues to work for prisoner rights in an effort to spare other immigrants and trans people from mistreatment. Even as an advocate, she finds it harder to address human rights violations within for-profit detention facilities: “Each time I called ICE, they would say they are not responsible for what goes on in those private facilities.”

By locking down and protesting, TWAC sent a message to GEO that pulling out of the FAU stadium deal doesn’t get them off the hook, and the struggle against for-profit prison and detention centers will continue. Cancelling their contract with FAU does nothing to change Geo’s long record of human rights abuse of detainees at taxpayer expense, nor does it diminish Geo’s profit-driven influence on anti-immigrant legislation and mass incarceration.
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Geo Group owns and operates 96 for-profit prisons and detention centers.  Using tax-payer funding, they push legislation that targets youth, poor, transgender, and people of color in order to increase incarceration rates and their own profits.  Over the last decade, GEO has spent millions lobbying the federal government.  This lobbying has paid off.  In 2005 they received $33.6 million in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts, and in 2011 they received $216 million in ICE contracts. GEO group is a member of ALEC, a membership group that works to write model legislation with multi-national corporations and influences legislators to pass laws that will benefit its corporate members.

In for profit prisons, overhead reduction efforts turn the focus away from safety, justice, and rehabilitation in order to make a few people rich.  Allowing rampant sexual assault, withholding proper medical care, and turning the prison into a sweat-shop producing consumer goods are just a few examples of how Geo Group treats humans as livestock to be used for the benefit of greedy CEOs.

This protest comes on the heels of TWAC, a weeklong gathering of almost 100 female and transgender activists to share skills and campaign information, and organize opposition to the prison-industrial complex. Prisons and immigrant detention centers, Geo’s primary investments, target poor people, people of color, and transgender individuals. As female and transgender organizers, we are more vulnerable to violence within these institutions. Geo has a clear record of human rights abuses within its facilities.

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GEO – FAU stadium deal called off!

A Timeline Recap of FAU’s Stadium Deal with GEO Group (FAU University Press)

FAU closed its doors on Owlcatraz on April 1.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously on renaming the stadium after the GEO Group — a private prison company — after they agreed to donate $6 million over the course of 12 years. The company has been the defendant in over a hundred lawsuits involving human rights violation in the past seven years, including sexual mistreatment of inmates and illegal drug smuggling in their detention facilities.

The deal sparked controversy as several students, faculty, and community members outwardly opposed having the company’s name on the stadium.

After six weeks of media scrutiny, student protests, and a faculty consensus that the GEO Group deal to rename the stadium should not hold up, the GEO Group withdrew from the agreement to rename the stadium.

Student protests defeat private prison bid to name college stadium (tv.msnbc.com)

Florida Atlantic University has dropped its plan to name a stadium after GEO Group, a for-profit prison corporation, after weeks of protests by students and civil rights groups. GEO had pledged $6 million to the school in exchange for the naming rights to the stadium.