Poor GEO Group. The Boca Raton-based private prison operator, former known as Wackenhut Corrections, had planned to invest $3 million in its quest to win a contract to run most of the prisons in the southern part of Florida.
But two weeks ago, a circuit court judge struck down the state Legislature's plan to privatize prisons in 18 counties, saying the way the plan passed -- as part of the state budget bill -- was unconstitutional. The Department of Corrections put the bidding process for private contractors on hold.
The GEO Group's stock plummeted
on the news. But interestingly, its website
remains cheerily optimistic about winning the contract. There's an entire section of the site devoted
to the prison privatization plan -- worded almost as if the company thinks it has the contract, ahem, locked up.
"The State of Florida is considering the privatization of 29 state-owned correctional facilities, work camps and work release centers in South Florida and GEO is excited for the opportunity to grow in Florida. Our World Headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida is located in the heart of Region IV facilities and is less than a two hour drive away from almost every facility in Region IV. GEO would be honored to add the Florida Department of Corrections' employees to the GEO Family of over 20,000 professionals worldwide."
The GEO Group can be excused for feeling confident. Last year, before the privatization plan was introduced in Tallahassee, the company donated $822,000 to political campaigns
in Florida, according to the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in Politics. GEO also chipped in $25,000 for Gov. Rick Scott's inauguration party. Tantalized by the prospect of running 29 new lockups, this is not a company that is going to accept defeat gracefully.