The editorial “Pay immigration detainees a fair wage” ignored contractual obligations required by the federal government. The Voluntary Work Program is required at all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, regardless of whether it is operated directly by ICE or by a contractor.
The Miami Herald’s online May 2 opinion column by Fabiola Santiago, “Who benefits from Florida’s sweeping bid to turn police into ICE agents? Big GOP donor,” mischaracterizes The GEO Group’s role as a government service provider. Attacks aimed at our operations are politically motivated, misplaced and deliberately mischaracterize what we do and don’t do.
The following is in response to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s letter dated November 15, 2018.
For over three decades, GEO has been a successful service provider to the federal government
with a longstanding record of delivering high-quality service to U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (“ICE”) under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. We are proud of
the services our employees deliver daily at the facilities we manage for ICE. Please know, that
we work diligently to ensure that these facilities comply with ICE’s Performance-Based National
Detention Standards as well as independent guidelines set by other third-party accreditation
The GEO Group On-The-Record Statement
The GEO Group does not manage facilities that house unaccompanied minors, including those who may have been separated from their parents or legal guardians, nor does the company manage any facilities or provide any services for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For over three decades, The GEO Group has managed special-purpose Processing Centers on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (and its predecessor agency) providing services exclusively for adults in the care of federal immigration authorities. Additionally, the company has managed the Karnes Family Residential Center, which has cared exclusively for parents together with their children, since 2014.
The facilities, programs and services at the Karnes Family Residential Center are specifically developed to provide a safe and humane environment for those in our care. This includes educational programming, around-the-clock quality medical care, a range of recreational options, and visitation facilities. Following intake, all residents are provided with six sets of non-institutional clothing and receive a medical examination. All residents of school age are offered educational services through a certified charter school.
Other features at the Karnes Family Residential Center include state-of-the-art smart-boards for classroom instruction, a library, activity games, multipurpose rooms for social activities, laundry facilities and food services catered to the residents’ local cuisine. Unlimited access to fruit, snacks, drinks, and infant formula is provided at all times. Recreational options at the Karnes Family Residential Center include an indoor gymnasium, artificial turf soccer fields, covered pavilion playgrounds, and picnic areas. Each room is equipped with bathroom and shower facilities, individual flat-screen TVs, and microwaves.
On a daily basis, the dedicated employees of The GEO Group deliver high quality services, including around-the clock medical care, that comply with performance-based standards set by the federal government and adhere to guidelines set by leading third-party accreditation agencies. The company’s employees are proud of our record in managing ICE Processing Centers with high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments. Members of The Geo Group team strive to treat all those entrusted to our care with compassion, dignity, and respect.
As a three-decade long service provider to the federal government, The GEO Group’s focus has always been and remains on providing high quality services that meet or exceed the strict standards set by the federal government, and the company plays absolutely no role in passing, setting, or advocating for or against immigration laws and policies.
By David Venturella, Senior Vice President for GEO Group. Published in The New York Times on Feb. 19, 2019. We take issue with Victoria Law’s characterization of the services that GEO Group has provided to the government for more than three decades, under Democratic and Republican administrations.
By Steve Farguie, Senior Area Manager for GEO Care. Published in the Orange County Register on Jan. 19, 2019. When California prisons came under healthcare receivership in 2005, the process of enhancing the community reentry programs for our state’s prison population began. California’s investment in in-custody and community programming such as the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP) and the Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP) has paid off in reduced recidivism rates and a declining prison population in accordance with some of the receiver’s requirements.
Correcting the Record: What Reuters Chose to Ignore in Its Reporting
Reuters published a story on January 18th that grossly ignored and omitted information provided in the reporting process that would have resulted in a more accurate and fact-based story. Contrary to the narrative depicted in the article, those staying at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center are provided a humane environment, with access to three free meals a day, also often eaten by facility staff, that account for a diverse range of dietary needs including Gluten Free, Kosher, pre-dialysis, and soy and nut allergies. Detailed menus, which are approved by registered dieticians and by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were provided on-the-record to Reuters.
Additionally, hygiene products are provided free of charge to all detainees, and they are available and accessible upon request. This includes bar soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, lotion, combs, hair ties, toilet paper and feminine products. Furthermore, brand name products are available for purchase at the Center’s commissary and include the option to purchase toothpaste for $1.50 in addition to the free toothpaste that is provided on demand.
Additionally, in no way does GEO profit from the Commissary operations, which are provided and operated by a third-party vendor. Any minimal commission from each commissary sale almost entirely goes into a Welfare Fund, which is used for recreational equipment for detainees with a small portion used to cover costs only.
These details -access to three meals a day, free hygiene products, and clarity on Commissary operations- are fundamental to any story that alleges individuals are forced into a strictly voluntary, federally-mandated work program in order to have access to food and basic hygiene needs, such as soap, purchased through Commissary. Furthermore, the undisputable fact that GEO receives no profit from Commissary operations undermines the false suggestion that forcing Commissary purchases somehow cycles money back to the company.
It is unfortunately that Reuters chose to disregard these facts in its reporting. We look forward to working with reporters as they continue to cover these issues, and would be happy to share the materials that were provided to and ignored by Reuters.
Warden Hosts Tour at Bay Correctional & Rehabilitation Facility for Community Advisory Committee to Address Recovery Efforts in Aftermath of Hurricane Michael
Panama City, Fla. – Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility Warden Craig Hanks today hosted the community advisory committee for a luncheon and tour at the correctional and rehabilitation facility to address recovery efforts and the reopening of the facility in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
During the luncheon, Warden Hanks addressed the facility’s experience with Hurricane Michael, including sharing photos of the extensive damage with the community advisory committee members.
“Hurricane Michael was a deadly, category four storm that hit Bay County with winds over 155 miles per hour,” said Warden Hanks. “Our facility suffered catastrophic damage while housing more than 960 inmates and 100 of our staff members and their families. We are proud of our employees, because, together, we pulled through safely and recovered quickly. Now, less than four months after Hurricane Michael made landfall, we stand ready to reopen – the first correctional facility in the region to do so.”
Warden Hanks also discussed the timeline of events leading up to, during and after Hurricane Michael made landfall, highlighting the facility’s preparation and subsequent recovery efforts.
“As Hurricane Michael threatened Florida, the decision was made by the state to have correctional facilities in the region shelter in place, as such, we began immediately making preparations in conjunction with the Florida Department of Corrections,” said Warden Hanks. “Following landfall, we began coordinating with FDC on evacuation and successfully evacuated all inmates within just five days. At that point, we were able to begin basic clean-up of the facility and evaluate damage.”
“We were also fortunate to be able to set up temporary housing for staff and their families, including a men’s dorm, women’s dorm, family dorm and pet’s dorm,” continued Warden Hanks. “The facility also began preparing and encouraging staff to get three hot meals made daily at the facility, do laundry, take a hot shower and whatever else staff needed. In fact, we were able to house staff members who needed shelter until early November, and set up a makeshift daycare for staff to allow people to return to work.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, The GEO Group Foundation provided $25,000 to the local Education Foundation to assist children in the community. Additionally, donations from GEO staff throughout the company, resulted in several $2,000 grants for employees and their families who lost their home, due to the impacts of the storm.
Finally, during a tour of Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility, Warden Hanks showed the community advisory committee members the extensive repairs the facility has undergone in order to reopen on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
“Damage to the facility was extensive, with roofing severely damaged, sky lights torn off, fencing compromised and air conditioning units impaired,” said Warden Hanks. “Since Hurricane Michael, we’ve worked quickly to repair the roof and fencing, mount new skylights, install new air conditioning units and have done extensive painting. To complete work even more quickly, the staff also pitched in and worked in the facility moving furniture, cleaning and painting to prepare for the inmates to return.”
“We are incredibly proud of our staff and community, who truly came together in the wake of this devastating storm, and we look forward to, once again, being able to offer the individuals in our care the unparalleled programming available at Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility that helps to successfully integrate inmates back into society and reduces the likelihood of recidivism.”
Special mention was also given to the two main contractors, White Construction Company and Ameritech General, whose quick deployment of resources and work coordination with the facility made this reactivation possible.
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The Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility is a medium security state correctional facility operated by The GEO Group, which offers enhanced rehabilitation programs and post-release support services through the GEO Continuum of Care.
By Waymon Barry, Eagle Pass Correctional Facility Warden. Published in Idaho Press on Dec. 26, 2018. The Idaho Press recently ran several stories, including an editorial, about Idaho inmates incarcerated in Eagle Pass, Texas. The distance between our facility and home for the inmates has allowed the Press to report falsehoods as fact and exaggerations as reality. Idaho families have it hard enough with loved ones incarcerated so far from home, and misleading press coverage is especially harmful to them.
By Will Racke. Published in The Daily Caller on Dec. 9, 2018. But the building’s drab exterior hides what might better be described as an oasis, at least for ex-inmates coming out if the Illinois prison system. The Illinois Department of Corrections sends parolees here to get help in acquiring the things they’ll need to restart their lives and, hopefully, make their most recent stay in prison their last. These can range from basic items like getting a driver’s license to locking down a steady job, which is almost always the key to post-prison rehabilitation, says Janet Szydelko, who has been the head program manager at the center since it opened in the Chatham neighborhood in 2015.