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CNN dumbfounded by prison riots



Greg Harman
gharman@sacurrent.com

Shameful CNN.

When a prison riot in a remote far West Texas prison broke out last weekend — the second in two months — CNN offered a truly anemic report.

“Officials said they do not know what prompted the riots,” the broadcaster reported just a couple grafs before saying, “The inmates, who had made several demands, surrendered later that night.”

Could it be that the demands were somehow relevant to the precipitating cause?

I’m thinking of the Minutemen album What Makes a Man Start Fires, now. Cause and effect, etc.

CNN’s report didn’t reference the earlier riot. No mention of the original complaint about poor health care. Nothing about the private corporation’s dead-inmate problem or extensive lawsuits and canceled contracts.

I'd be more willing to blame it all on the curse of the 24-hour news cycle if online sources of information about this jail and it's operator weren't so easy to find. Thankfully, when primary sources won’t talk, as apparently happened out in Pecos with local, state, and jail officials lockstepping in silence, reporters have lots of other avenues for information. There are primary documents, like audits, letters, and tax returns. And we have each other.

In this case, it’s as simple as checking the company’s name (GEO Group) with a few online search engines.

Had CNN done this, they would have known of the first riot, of the health care concerns, and of this company’s horrendous history.

GEO, formerly Wackenhut, was recently kicked out of Australia, New Zealand, and the fine state of Idaho.

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast checked out their corporate docs back in 2007:

The first thing that jumped out at me in Geo's 12/31/06 10-K filing was the section titled "Discontinued operations"
Through our Australian subsidiary, we previously had a contract with the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, or DIMIA, for the management and operation of Australia’s immigration centers. In 2003, the contract was not renewed, and effective February 29, 2004, we completed the transition of the contract and exited the management and operation of the DIMIA centers.

In early 2005, the New Zealand Parliament repealed the law that permitted private prison operation resulting in the termination of our contract for the management and operation of the Auckland Central Remand Prison or Auckland. We have operated this facility since July 2000. We ceased operating the facility upon the expiration of the contract on July 13, 2005.

GEO has a backlog of complaints in Texas, too.

We’ve got lawsuits and apparent rampant sex abuse in South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall; shuttering of the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center in Bronte for “unsanitary and unsafe conditions;” and Idaho's Department of Corrections Director of Health Care calling the prison up there the “worst he's ever seen and ‘beyond repair.’”

Shit, CNN. Toss a rock, you’ll hit a GEO malady.

So why are prisoners rioting at the Reeves County Detention Center?

CNN wants America to go figure.

Posted by gharman on 2/2/2009 4:30:19 PM
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