Today, The GEO Group issued a statement about VICE News refusing to include extensive information provided by our company in a so-called ‘documentary’ on government contractors in corrections and immigration services, which aired on Showtime on Sunday, April 11, 2021:
“Over a six-week period, we engaged with VICE News producers in good faith for a segment they positioned as covering the future of government contractors in corrections and immigration services and the local economic impact of facility closures following the Biden Administration’s January 2021 Executive Order Regarding the Department of Justice and Privately Operated Criminal Detention Facilities.
We exchanged over 20 e-mails with VICE producers, providing contact information for five former employees and local leaders in Folkston, GA, where we managed a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility, which closed at the end of January. We were told they planned to contact these former employees and local leaders, but we have since learned that never occurred.
VICE never indicated that they would specifically like to speak with an employee at our Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania, which closed at the end of March and was featured in the story. We would have been happy to accommodate such a request. Instead, they resorted to interviewing an anonymous employee, and they wrongly claimed that employees were not allowed to speak with the media, to create the inaccurate perception of a lack of transparency on our company’s part.
We also provided VICE producers with contact information for individuals with the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents nearly 900 workers at various GEO facilities and which partnered with GEO’s Rivers Correctional Facility in North Carolina (which also closed at the end of March), on a reentry program in Washington D.C. to help inmates find work upon release. VICE producers also never reached out to them.
We further shared materials related to the local economic impact of facility closures, as well as the impact to inmates, and we gave VICE a copy of a 2021 report from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, which shows that contractor operated facilities receive more scrutiny and oversight than publicly-managed facilities in the context of COVID-19. VICE producers also ignored all this information.
During our weeks-long engagement, we gave VICE producers extensive information related to GEO’s rehabilitation and reentry services, including the award-winning GEO Continuum of Care, which offers enhanced in-custody rehabilitation programming and post-release support services. The information shared with VICE producers included data demonstrating the positive impact of GEO’s programs by reducing recidivism. VICE producers also ignored this information, and the GEO Continuum of Care was not mentioned once in the segment.
At their request, we arranged for VICE producers to interview Mr. Amlak-I Foley, a former inmate and GEO Continuum of Care participant, who is now a successful Post-Release Case Manager in GEO’s Headquarters and is helping individuals released from GEO facilities succeed in their communities post-release. This interview lasted approximately one hour, and although VICE producers told Mr. Foley that they were interested in filming him and the process of the GEO Continuum of Care and the post-release support he provides in his role at GEO, VICE ultimately ignored what Mr. Foley had to say, telling us that his perspective and life experiences “just didn’t work or fit in” with their story.
In addition, we also provided VICE producers with contact information for several former inmates, assuming that the perspective of those who have actually spent time in a contractor operated correctional facility would be of interest to VICE. However, VICE producers also ignored this information.
It is abundantly clear that VICE had a pre-determined narrative and its producers and journalists were not going to let facts or different perspectives get in the way of the false, one-sided narrative they were determined to tell.”