A really interesting story came out of New Mexico last week that really speaks to the great benefit the industry enjoys in having former (and potentially future) employees working in government. I have often complained of the political and contractual favoritism shown to the industry by former employees, but this one really struck me.
The new Secretary of Corrections has decided to finally start holding the GEO Group accountable for its terrible mismanagement of its facilities in the state, fining the company more than $1 million for failing to maintain adequate staffing levels, which obviously presents a huge risk of violence. This is the first time the state has really held any private prison company accountable for failing to meet contractual obligations. The former Secretary, who had previously worked for the GEO Group, repeatedly declined to fine the industry for known failures to comply, saving the GEO Group nearly $20 million worth of fines in the process. And it seems like the new Secretary is serious about holding GEO Group and CCA accountable for the millions of taxpayer dollars they get in contracts; he says he wants to review staffing levels at private prisons every single month.
And the fines could not have come at a more appropriate time. Because a prisoner in a GEO Group facility in Clayton, New Mexico, was just beaten to within an inch of his life and is now on life support following the vicious assault.
PS - that former secretary of corrections, Joe Williams, who declined to fine the GEO Group nearly $20 million, landed himself a nice, cushy gig with, who else, the effing GEO Group. He's the director of US operations, a position that I'm willing to bet pays a pretty decent salary.