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Myth: Contract service providers insist on a contractual minimum occupancy guarantee, which creates a perverse incentive for governments to put more people in prison or detention in order to meet the guaranteed bed quota.
Fact: The Government, through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, decides the number of beds for a given contract. Contract service providers respond to the RFP, and are compensated according to the terms of the contract.
Government facilities are consistently fully funded (regardless of actual occupancy) to pay for staff salaries, benefits, health services, physical plant and other costs. Contract facility providers have the same financial responsibilities as government facilities and need to achieve adequate funding through occupancy guarantees to pay for those costs and not jeopardize facility security.
Increasingly, contracts by the BOP and ICE provide for a fixed monthly payment, with no occupancy guarantee.
Myth: Contract correctional service providers unfairly profit from people’s misery in being incarcerated.
Fact: Only the courts, who carry out state and federal laws, decide who will be incarcerated. Contract correctional service providers have deliberately stayed out of the public debate regarding offender sentencing and potential reforms.
Contract correctional service companies often provide newer facilities, with improved rehabilitation programs and better living conditions. With respect to GEO facilities:
- 95% of GEO’s facilities are less than 25 years old, compared with 33% of all state correctional facilities in the United States that are less than 25 years old
- 100% of GEO’s facilities are air-conditioned
- 100% of the 800 academic and vocational classrooms in GEO’s facilities have electronic Smartboards for interactive computer assisted curriculum
- 17 GEO facilities provide the “GEO Continuum of Care®” with additional rehabilitation staffing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Average daily attendance in 2017: 24,000+ in Vocational Programs and 12,000+ in Academic Programs
- 2,615 high school equivalency degrees were awarded in 2017, along with 7,814 vocational certifications
- 100% of ICE Processing Centers and BOP Correctional Facilities managed by GEO have artificial turf soccer fields
- 100% of GEO’s facilities have flat screen TVs in the day-room areas
Contract correctional service providers must be for-profit organizations in order to access financial institutions to provide funding for new state or federal facilities, which individually cost several tens of millions of dollars.
Contract correctional facilities are logical counterparts to government correctional facilities, just as charter schools are logical counterparts to public schools and private hospitals are logical counterparts to government hospitals.
Myth: Contract correctional service providers cut corners to enhance their bottom line by employing less staff, paying lower wages, and providing less training than government-operated facilities.
Fact: Contracts governing privately operated facilities include minimum staffing requirements that must be strictly followed by the contract service providers who are subject to strict oversight and financial penalties for failure to comply.
Contracted state facilities offer competitive wage and benefit packages to their employees in order to successfully recruit and retain qualified staff. Contracted federal facilities fall under the Service Contract Act which requires wage rates set by the U.S. Department of Labor and typically exceed local market rates.
The training requirements for employees in contracted correctional facilities and detention centers mirror the training requirements for government employees in comparable government operated facilities.