Saturday, April 18, 2015

GEO Group Employee Smuggles Contraband

GEO Group Facility, Big Spring Texas
A GEO Group employee plead guilty to smuggling products to inmates. Two others also plead guilty for bribery of public officials, and aiding and abetting,

GEO, Group employee, Eva Bermea, who worked as a recreational specialist for GEO Group, Inc. was smuggling tobacco and creatine to a GEO Group inmate, Jonas Cruz, at the Big Spring Correctional Center in Big Spring, Texas.  Kami Nicole Bennet assisted Bermea and Cruz by packaging the products and by collecting money from Cruz's brother who is not incarcerated.

GEO manages prisons for profit.  In the traditional GEO model, the government pays GEO to operate the prison on the theory the private sector can do the job for less money than the government can.  In at least some GEO prisons, GEO charges the government a price similar to that a traveler would pay for a luxury hotel for each night a prisoner stays in the "GEO hotel".  At the same time, GEO gives the least it can to inmates, including limiting rations of toilet paper and providing medical treatment at a snail's pace to the detriment of needy prisoners.

Toilet paper is a big issue for people who are incarcerated.  Being able to cleanse one's self after evacuation contributes to the dehumanization of inmates in an environment that is already incredibly harsh.  The practice also leads to unhealthy habits by inmates so GEO can make an extra buck.


Earlier, a GEO contracted teacher plead guilty to smuggling tobacco and alcohol to inmates and received a six month sentence.  Ronald Craig Maxwell was sentenced to making false statements and abetting in the tobacco scheme.  Maxwell said tobacco "fell" out of the ceiling at the Big Spring Correctional Institution, and he sold the products to inmates for a handsome profit.  The truth is, Maxwell was dirty along with other GEO personnel in the product smuggling business.

GEO is traded on the NASDAQ.  Anyone can be in the prison for profit business with GEO Group, Inc. if they buy GEO Stock.  In the past, the investment division of Wells Fargo has purchased significant GEO stock only to find a national boycott of their banks for investing institutional millions in the dirty business of prisons.  In the past year, GEO Group, Inc. stock has fluctuated dramatically.

The sentencing of Bermea, Cruz and Bennet is just one more brick in a bulging wall of evidence why private prisons for profit are a bad idea.  Imagine what the billions spent on incarceration each year could to towards building recreational facilities and schools?  Many of those locked up in GEO hotels could be placed on ankle monitoring devices.  Tax payers don't pay for ankle monitoring, the inmate pays for the cost of his own monitor.

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