GEO History

When reading this timeline please keep in mind that Wackenhut Corrections Coporation, or WCC, became Geo Group in 2003. WCC is one of a few corporations, which, founded by George Zoley, has laid the foundations of Geo Group and the international private-prison industry. 
This time-line is a working document, which means it is always up for editing and additions. If you have any important facts that you think should be on this timeline, please contact us at:, and please try to include a reference. We will try to keep up with this timeline as more GEO group news comes in.

GeorgeZoley1984 – Geo group starts out as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC)
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC) was formed as a division of The Wackenhut Corporation (TWC) in 1984. The Wackenhut Corporation (TWC), now known as G4S Secure Solutions, is a security company which, in 1984, created  Wakenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC) as it’s private prisons, detention and jail sector. Founder George C. Zoley was instrumental to the development and marketing of detention, prison and jail services to government agencies.

aurora-ice-lg1987 – First Contract Award
After 3 years, WCC was awarded 1st contract: the Aurora ICE Processing Center. WCC was put in custody and control of 150 undocumented people for the Bureau of Immigration and Custody Enforcement.

753764611988The Wackenhut Corporation and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation combine
WCC was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary (a company that is completely or partly owned and partly or wholly controlled by another company that owns more than half of the subsidiary’s stock) by of TWC.

1992 – WCC Enters the International Market
WCC developed another wholly owned subsidiary: the Australasian Correction Management PTY Ltd. (ACM), and enters the international market.
1992 – WCC Beings to Develop it’s own Version of Jails, Prisons and Detention Centers.
An internal design services division was created to design WCC’s facilities.
1992 – WCC Spreads to Europe
WCC entered the prison and detention market in the United Kingdom through a joint venture to form, Premier Custodial Group Ltd. (PCGL). PCGL now started to control prisoner transportation, court custody, home detention, and prison and immigration detention services. (The joint venture was discontinued, by mutual agreement in 2003).

1993 – WCC received it’s first Australian contract
ACM, a subsidiary of Wakenhut Corrections Cooptation, was awarded its first Australian contract: the Junee Correctional Center. This contact included the designing, building, and operating of the New South Wales Department of Corrective Services. This contract was the first privately run jail in New South Wales.
1993 – WCC gets into the Rehabilitation Market
Opens the world’s largest in-prison therapeutic community chemical dependency treatment programs at the Kyle Correctional Center. The program provided intensive chemical dependency treatment.

1994- WCC Beings to Run Operations at Texas’ Coke County Juvenile Justice Center
1994– WCC enters the Stock Market
WCC’s shares are sold to the general public for the first time. 2.2 million shares were made public in July on the NASDAQ®

1996 – WCC Enters the New York Stock Exchange
WCC enlisted on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol WHC.  The are now trading under ticker symbol GEO.
1996 – WCC Completes 2 for 1 Stock Split
In June, WCC completed a two-for-one stock split creating 22 million outstanding shares. A two-for-one stock spit means the stock price is adjusted so that all shares remain the same value. So, instead of more shares making the initial shares less valuable, the new shares instead because of the same value as the old shares.
1996 – First Private Prison Project in Scotland
Through a cooperative enterprise, PCGL and WCC were awarded Scotland’s first private prison project to design, construct, finance, and manage the 524-bed Lowdham Grange Prison.

1997 – WCC gets into Residential Treatment Services
GEO Care, formally known as Atlantic Shores Healthcare, Inc., is created. This wholly-owned subsidiary was formed to provide behavioral and mental health care services to state and local government agencies.
1997 – First Bureau of Prison Contract
WCC receives an award for the first privately operated U.S Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility. The 2,048-bed Taft Correctional Institution opened in December 1997.
1997 – First Psychiatric Health Care Contract
Geo Care buys its first psychiatric hospital: Atlantic Shores Hospital. This is Atlantic Shores Healthcare Inc.’s first operating contract for psychiatric health care.

1998 – GEO Design Services, Inc. is created
Wholly-owned subsidiary GEO Design Services Inc. (GDSI) is formed, becoming the only for-profit prison/detention/mental health company to have an in-house design team.
1998 – 1st Private State Psychiatric hospital in US
WCC receives award to operate the first comprehensive privatized state psychiatric hospital in the US. GEO Care took over the operation and management of the 335 bed South Florida State Hospital November 1998.
1998 – WCC Co-Creates a Properties Investment Arm: Correctional Properties Trust
WCC co-created Correctional Properties Trust (now known as CentraCore Properties Trust), a real estate investment trust. Formed to support the growing trend towards utilizing privately sourced capital in the privatized corrections industry.

1999 – WCC Expands to New Zealand
WCC established subsidiary GEO Group New Zealand following a contract award for the operation of the Auckland Central Remand Prison. This contract represented New Zealand’s first private prison project. Upon contract completion in 2005, New Zealand returned its prison operations to the public sector. The GEO Group New Zealand closed in 2007.
1999 – WCC Enters South Africa
WCC establishes, via joint venture, South African Custodial Management (SACM) an operating arm of South African Custodial Services (SACS). The South African Custodial Services looked to WCC to remedy overcrowding conditions for the government prison system.
Summer of 1999 – Incidences of sexual misconduct reported in Work-Release Facility
In Florida, five guards at a Wackenhut work-release facility in Fort Lauderdale were fired or punished for having sex with inmates in the summer of 1999. Though no charges were filed, the local sheriff planned to renegotiate contract terms with Wackenhut.
1999 – South Africa Goes Private
SACS awarded the first privatized correctional centre in South Africa. A 25-year contract for the design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance of the Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre in South Africa began July 1999.
August 1999Wakenhut Partially to Blame for New Mexico Riot because of Lack of Staffing, Inexperienced Supervisors, Low Pay and High Turn-Over
In New Mexico, state consultants concluded in a 500-page report that Wackenhut was partially at fault for a riot in August of 1999. About 120 inmates at a Wackenhut facility initially participated in the riot, but it quickly spread to include about 400 inmates. The riot left 13 Corrections Officers (COs) injured and an inmate and a guard were killed. Two of the injured COs were state corrections officers who were at the prison to provide training. The consultants blamed the state for placing violent gang criminals in the company’s medium-security prison, but they also denounced Wackenhut for lack of staffing, inexperienced supervisors, low pay and high turnover. The CO who was killed was making only $7.98 an hour. Low wages and benefits paid by for-profit corrections firms can attract workers who would not be qualified to work in a public correctional setting. To compound the problems in New Mexico, published reports also reveal that Cornell Corrections knowingly hired convicted felons to work as guards inside Santa Fe County’s juvenile jail.
Fall of 1999 – Wackenhut lost a $12 million annual contract and was fined $625,000
In Texas, Wackenhut lost a $12 million annual contract and was fined $625,000 for not abiding by a contract to run a state prison. The company barely kept the minimum number of guards required in the contract. According to the newspaper, 12 former guards were indicted on charges of having sex with female inmates. The female inmates filed civil complaints claiming they had been raped at three Wackenhut prisons in Texas.

April 9, 2000 – Wakenhut Surrenders Contol of Juvenile facility
Wackenhut surrendered control of its juvenile prison in Jena, La., a week after the U.S. Justice Department accused the company in a lawsuit of beating boys, using tear gas indoors, spraying the boys in the face with pepper spray and not providing adequate education and counseling. A Louisiana corrections official and representatives of Florida-based Wackenhut Corrections Corporation told a juvenile court judge Tuesday they don’t know how long the state’s temporary takeover of the embattled 276-bed Jena Juvenile Justice Center will last. The state seized control of the prison in the midst of negotiations to settle civil-rights lawsuits against the Jena facility and four other juvenile prisons, including one in Baton Rouge. The state and Wackenhut agreed to enact sweeping reforms at the Jena center in a temporary settlement of the suite.
April 23, 2000 – Property Tax Dispute
As Wackenhut tried to sell Hernando County, Florida on a new project, at least two county commissioners worried that Wackenhut and other private prison companies have balked at paying promised property taxes once they settled into a community. Wackenhut officials say they are not obligated to pay property taxes at the two prisons they operate in Florida because the prisons are owned by the state, an argument critics dispute.

April 26, 2001 – Horrific and gruesome death of Gregorio de la Rosa, Jr. (“Gregorio”) Gregorio takes place.
Gregorio, an honorably discharged former National Guardsman, was serving a six-month sentence at a prison operated by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation for possession of less than 1/4 grams of cocaine. A few days before his expected release, Gregorio was beaten to death by two other inmates using a lock tied to a sock, while Wackenhut’s officers stood by and watched and Wackenhut’s wardens smirked and laughed.
Gregorio’s estate and his family members brought survival and wrongful death claims against Wackenhut and its warden, David Forrest, alleging that they negligently caused Gregorio’s death and acted with malice and gross negligence. Wackenhut also either lost or destroyed key evidence in this case, prompting the trial court to give a spoliation instruction. The jury found that Wackenhut and Warden Forrest were negligent and acted with gross negligence or malice, and it awarded actual damages to Gregorio’s parents and children and punitive damages to Gregorio’s estate.

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. In 2009 GEO appealed the court’s decision and a verdict of $42.5 million was upheld.

 2002 – Group 4 Falck (now G4S) Merges with WCC
Group 4 Falck (now G4S) merges with The Wackenhut Corporation (WTC) and becomes the indirect owner of WCC common stock (What is common stock? Check it out here: G4S is now the world’s largest security company.
To learn about G4S:

2003 – Sale of Premier Custodial Group Ltd. (PCGL), WCC’s UK arm
WCC sells PCGL.

2003 – WCC becomes a Fully Independent Company
WCC officially repurchased all 12 million shares of WCC common stock from G4S. This transformed WCC from a corporate subsidy into a fully independent company with access to the capital markets.
Read about capital markets:
2003 – WCC Changes it’s Name to GEO Group
WCC officially changes it’s name to The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO)
2003 – Florida Top Public Company
GEO is named a Florida Trend Magazine’s Top 250 Public Company, a position it still holds today.

2004 – GEO Re-established in UK
GEO reestablishes it’s subsidiary, The GEO Group UK Ltd, in order to pursue new business opportunities in England, Scotland and Wales – the second largest private correctional market in the world.

Between 2005-2009 – At Least 8 People Died at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility
Between 2005 and 2009, at least eight people had 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.

2005 – GEO Merges with Correctional Services Corporation (CSC)
GEO signs a definitive merger agreement to acquire Sarasota-based Correctional Services Corporation (CSC). This merger added 15 adult correctional facilities and others under development with a design capacity of approximately 8,000 beds in North America.
A little more information on CSC:
2005 – GEO Reaches ownership of 58 Facilities
The completion of GEO’s CSC acquisition was finalized in November 2005. Post-closing, GEO assumed management and operational contracts that brought GEO to 58 facilities and increased their total holding capacity to 48,000 beds.
2005 – GEO is Awarded Contract for First Privatized State Prison in Indiana
GEO was awarded the contract for the first privatized state prison in Indiana. The operation and management of the 2,416-bed New Castle Facility was awarded to GEO in January 2005.
2005 – GEO is Awarded 1st Private Forensic Psychiatric Treatment Facility in US
GEO Care was awarded the first privately managed contract in the United States for the operation and management of a forensic psychiatric facility. GEO Care took over operations of the South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center July 2005.
What is Forensic Psychiatry?:

2007 – The Texas Youth Commission finds GEO’s Coke-County Facility Under “Deplorable Conditions” and has Youth Transferred
The Texas Youth Commission (TYC) fired seven employees after discovering inmates at the GEO-run Coke County Juvenile Justice Center living in “deplorable conditions.” 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.
2007 – GEO Merges with Correctional Properties Trust, Reaching Revenues in Excess of One Billion Dollars
GEO completed a definitive merger agreement to acquire Correctional Properties Trust, now known as CentraCore Properties Trust (to refresh your memory, see 1998 of this timeline). This merger resulted in ownership of 13 correctional facilities totaling over 8,000 beds. With this merger, GEO reached revenues in excess of one billion dollars.
To learn more about how CentraCore operates, and how it helps GEO group and it’s shareholders evade federal income tax:
2007 – GEO establishes GEO Transport Inc.
GEO establishes GEO Transport, Inc. GEO Transport Inc. has contacts with the Federal Government to transports undocumented detainees as well as other populations of incarcerated people.

December 31, 2008 – GEO Pulled out of Operations at George W. Hill Correctional Facility
GEO pulled out of operations at this facility, “citing underperformance and frequent litigations” as the reasons.

2009 – GEO Purchaces Just Care, Inc.
GEO’s wholly-owned subsidiary, GEO Care, Inc. acquires Just Care, Inc, for approximately $40.0 million. Just Care, Inc. is a provider of detention healthcare focusing on the delivery of medical and mental health services. Just Care manages the 354-bed Columbia Regional Care Center (the “Facility”) located in Columbia, South Carolina. The Facility houses medical and mental health residents for the State of South Carolina and the State of Georgia as well as special needs detainees under custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

November, 2010 – Plaintiffs Filed Federal Lawsuit Against GEO for Horrendous Abuses at Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility
Plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit against the agencies that operate and own the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (YCF), saying that the prison authorities allowed abuses and negligence to occur at the facility. 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. 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 an investigation concerning the prison. 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. GEO settled the lawsuit in February 2012 and it was agreed to move the remaining youths from the prison to more suitable locations that conform to juvenile standards. Former Walnut Grove YCF warden and eight-term mayor, William Grady Sims, resigned and pleaded guilty to removing a female inmate to a motel for sex and pressuring her to lie about it.
2010 – GEO Merges with Cornell Cornell Companies
GEO signs a definitive merger agreement to acquire Cornell Companies. This merger resulted in a combined company with approximately $1.5 billion in annual revenues and approximately 78,000 beds under management, development and/or ownership.
Check out what kind of business Cornell Companies is doing (please note that the top of this wikipedia article notes that this article appears to be written like an advertisement):

2011 – GEO Buys BI Incorporated
GEO Group buys BI Incorporated (BI), a private provider of compliance technologies, monitoring services, and evidence-based supervision and treatment programs for parolees, probationers, and pretrial defendants. BI Incorporated works with ICE Enforcement and Removals Operations to motor undocumented people while they await immigration hearings and court, and helps to facilitate the removal of undocumented people away from the United States.
Check out what kinds of products BI Incorporated sells:

February 2012 – Geo Group settles Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility Lawsuit
GEO settled a lawsuit brought against them in November of 2010 (See November, 2010 on this timeline) and it was agreed to move the remaining youths from the prison to more suitable locations that conform to juvenile standards.

July 2012- Two Undocumented Youth Turn themselves in to be Detained so they can Report on Conditions in GEO Group’s Broward Transitional Center
GEO’s Broward Transitional Center, a 720-bed facility in Pompano Beach, Florida, is the only privately owned immigration detention center in Florida. The undocumented youth’s intention was to report on the conditions inside the facility firsthand. The youth reported 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 allegations, a number of members of Congress, including Pompano Beach’s Ted Deutch, wrote a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under contract with whom GEO operates the facility, requesting an investigation. As of March 2013, ICE has not responded.
DREAM activist Viridiana Martinez was able to speak with Democracy now on their live daily program from inside the Broward Transitional Center. Martinez is one of a group of undocumented activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance who infiltrated the Broward Transitional Center and found dozens of immigrants who should be released under Obama’s discretionary guidelines.

February 2013 – GEO Signs a 6 Million Dollar Contract with Florida Atlantic University for their Stadium Naming Rights
April 2013 – GEO Group Brakes its Contract with FAU
After relentless opposition from FAU students, local community members and national organizations, GEO Group broke its $6 million dollar contact with FAU.


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