The Dallas Morning News has dragged some troubling skeletons out of the GEO Group’s closet, leaving no doubt that the private prison company’s troubles extend beyond the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center. Among the complaints at other GEO facilities in Texas, according to this thorough report:
• An Idaho inmate at the Dickens County prison in northwest Texas slashed his throat after being held for three months in a cold, moldy solitary cell with bloodstained bedding, according to court records.
• GEO settled a wrongful death case brought by the family of a female inmate at the Val Verde County facility. Plaintiffs alleged the inmate committed suicide after being raped and denied psychiatric care, according to court records.
• A jury ruled that Wackenhut Corrections Corp., which became GEO, had destroyed evidence of an inmate’s beating death at a Willacy County facility and returned a $47.5 million verdict against the company.
Big trouble in the Lone Star State, got it. But wait, there’s more:
State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, noted that GEO has had problems at other facilities throughout the United States. In other states, the company has also been accused of providing inadequate healthcare and failing to protect inmates from abuse, according to multiple lawsuits and reports by state officials.
One thing about tough-guy private contractors, they clearly prefer to work in the shadows. Whether it’s Blackwater in Iraq or the GEO Group in Texas, public scrutiny is not in the business plan. But when you’re running a shady operation on such a large scale, laying down the law without any oversight or accountability, sooner or later something is bound to go dreadfully wrong. And when that happens–when the light starts to shine–suddenly you’ve got a whole dossier of troubles to answer for, and there’s simply nowhere to hide.