Myth:  Contract facility providers have advocated for stricter immigration enforcement policies and lobbied Congress to enact a detention bed quota.


Our company’s political and lobbying activities focus on promoting the benefits of public-private partnerships in the delivery of secure residential care in correctional and detention facilities; community reentry and supervision programs; and electronic and location monitoring services, as well as the provision of evidence-based rehabilitation, both in-custody and post-release, through the ‘GEO Continuum of Care®.’ We do not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against criminal justice or immigration policies such as whether to criminalize behavior, the length of criminal sentences, or the basis for or length of an individual’s incarceration or detention.

Political contributions to candidates at the federal level are made through GEO’s Political Action Committee, which is exclusively funded through voluntary, non-partisan employee contributions, and these contributions should not be construed as an endorsement of all policies or positions adopted by any individual candidate.

The so-called “detention bed quota” was established by a Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate under the Obama administration to ensure that taxpayer funding appropriated to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was used to support what Congress determined to be an appropriate level of secure detention within the United States. The so called “detention bed quota” was not the result of lobbying by contract service providers, and has since been eliminated by Congress.  

Myth:  Contract service providers have contributed to ‘mass incarceration’ by lobbying federal and state lawmakers for tougher prosecution and sentencing policies.


Only the courts, who carry out state and federal laws, decide who will be incarcerated. Contracted facilities comprised less than 7% (146,000) of the total number of individuals incarcerated (2.2 million) at the federal, state and local levels at year-end 2016, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics; which excludes reentry centers, ICE processing centers and U.S. Marshals detention facilities.

At the Federal level, it was during the years of the Democratic Clinton Administration (1992 to 2000) that “Get-Tough-on-Crime” laws were passed. They were directed at fighting drug-related and violent crimes plaguing urban communities across the country. These laws focused on repeat felony offenders and provided significant law enforcement resources to local communities. 

The increase in criminal prosecutions that followed did not lead to the development of any contracted federal correctional facilities for U.S. citizens. Instead, the private sector’s involvement has been limited to providing the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) with new capacity for the increasing number of criminal aliens (non-US citizens) convicted of federal felony crimes. Presently, out of the BOP’s total inmate population of 183,830 only 10% (18,458) are held in contracted facilities, and less than 750 are US citizens. 

At the State level, starting in the 1970’s, there was significant U.S. population migration from the north to the south, which increased the population in the Sunbelt states (from Florida to California) almost 100% by 2010. As a result, state prisons became increasingly overcrowded which resulted in Federal courts requiring expanded prison capacity in the Sunbelt states, where most contract facilities are now located. 

Contract correctional providers responded to these pressing needs with financial and organizational resources toward the timely development and professional operation of detention and correctional facilities contracted with government agencies in the form of Public/Private Partnerships. 

At neither the Federal nor State level have contract service providers advocated for increased correctional capacity, or stricter sentencing guidelines. 

Today, at the Federal level, contract facilities are almost exclusively confined to housing the increasing number of criminal aliens (non-US citizens). At the state level, contract facilities provided critically needed capacity that was mandated by Federal court orders concerning Sunbelt states whose populations had increased 100% from 1970 to 2010.