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November 16, 2011

How common are fines or other state sanctions on private prisons?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this notable local article from New Mexico, which is headlined "State fines private prison operator $1.1 million over staffing shortage." Here are excerpts:

A Florida company will pay New Mexico $1.1 million in penalties for not adequately staffing a private prison it operates in Hobbs, a state official said.

GEO Group, which manages three of New Mexico's four private prisons, agreed to pay the settlement last week following a meeting between the corrections agency and the company's top management, Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel said Monday.  "They've agreed on it," Marcantel said of GEO.  "It's a very fair way of doing it.  They are not completely happy.  It needed to be done."...

GEO will pay the $1.1 million over several months, the corrections secretary said. In addition, GEO has agreed to spend $200,000 over the next calendar year to recruit new correctional officers for the Hobbs facility.

By contract, New Mexico can penalize The GEO Group and Corrections Corp. of America, the two firms that operate the private facilities, when staffing vacancies are at 10 percent or more for 30 consecutive days. The settlement represents the first time in years — possibly ever — that New Mexico has penalized the out-of-state, for-profit companies for not adequately staffing the facilities they operate.  The issue has come up in the past, but state officials said New Mexico had never levied penalties for understaffing issues.

The question surfaced in 2010 when state lawmakers were struggling to find ways to close a yawning state budget gap.  At the time, the Legislature's budget arm, the Legislative Finance Committee, estimated Gov. Bill Richardson's administration had skipped $18 million in penalties by not assessing penalties against the two firms for inadequate prison staffing levels....

GEO, headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., recently reported $1.2 billion in earnings and $58.8 million in profit through the first nine months of this year, according to a Nov. 2 release by the company.

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November 16, 2011 at 09:18 AM | Permalink

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Comments

hmm interesting!

but does this mean that these same corporations as citizens of the same state...can bring charges and ask the court to call for the SAME fines agaisnt the state if THEIR facilites are 10% under staffed as well!

if those corps have some balls this one might bite the states in the ass!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 16, 2011 1:27:31 PM

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