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Prison privatization meets college football
February 19, 2013 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Florida Atlantic University announced today that its football team will play in "GEO Group Stadium", named after a for-profit prison company. According to the New York Times, GEO Group Inc. gifted 6 million to the public university as part of a controversial deal to secure the naming rights for its stadium.
posted by airing nerdy laundry (38 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lazyweb: do other nations have for-profit private prisons, or are they unique to the US?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:04 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


How are for-profit/privatized prisons even legal? Has there ever been a serious challenge to this in the courts?
posted by koavf at 11:05 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seeing as how I am of the opinion that companies buying naming rights are essentially throwing money down an infinitely deep hole in a desperate bid for name recognition that they probably already have or really don't need, I'm pretty much OK with this.
posted by incessant at 11:06 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Somebody smarter than me can make the comparison between how prisons and sport trap people in the same cycle, but I'm too disgusted by the American prison system to make it.

Lazyweb: do other nations have for-profit private prisons, or are they unique to the US?

I don't know if the prisons are for-profit, but Australian immigration detention centers are run by Serco Group, who also run prisons (there isn't much difference between the two).
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:08 PM on February 19, 2013


Lazyweb: do other nations have for-profit private prisons, or are they unique to the US?

The GEO Group, Inc. is a multinational — they operate in countries other than just the US. According to their latest Form 10-K , they operate correctional, detention, mental health, residential treatment and re-entry facilities in the United States, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Their overseas facilities that could be considered "for-profit private prisons" include several "Correctional Centres" in Australia, two "Immigration Removal Centres" in the UK, a "Correctional Centre" in South Africa, and a "Youth Centre" in Canada. However, the majority of their facilities are in the US.
posted by RichardP at 11:22 PM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


What the fucking cock shitting fuck. How does a for-profit prison company even benefit from name recognition? Are they planning on charging inmates for assignment to their luxury prisons?

Everything about this is totally out of control.
posted by cmoj at 11:23 PM on February 19, 2013 [20 favorites]


Salt Lake City had a similar controversy when they sold the naming rights of a venue to one of the biggest pollution generating corporations on the planet.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:26 PM on February 19, 2013


Oh, and five fresh fish, since you're in Canada and thought the phenomenon might be unique to the US, the facility that The GEO Group, Inc operates in Canada is the New Brunswick Youth Center in Mirimachi. It's classified as a "Provincial Juvenile Facility" -- it replaced the older Kingsclear Youth Training Centre, a provincial male youth detention centre.
posted by RichardP at 11:29 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


However, I should note that it looks like they only manage the facility. It's owned by the Province of New Brunswick.
posted by RichardP at 11:33 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's something deliciously stupid about a company paid by the taxpayers and then turning around and spending a whole shitload of that money for a public university's Macguffin.

Can we cut out the middleman? Just give the money directly to the university? Call the stadium "Smart Taxpayer Field?"
posted by incessant at 11:39 PM on February 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


"How does a for-profit prison company even benefit from name recognition?"

That's a really good question. It's not like they need to advertise to judges or anything.

Straight bribes take care of that.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:40 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


There should be public prisons for the poor and private prisons for the wealthy, just like with schools. That way, the rich could pay for themselves to be incarcerated. That would be a great incentive to arrest more rich people.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:54 PM on February 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


How does a for-profit prison company even benefit from name recognition?

GEO's had revenues of $1.27 billion in 2010. Six million dollars is a rounding error. How do they benefit? Don't underestimate the degree to which the interests of management can diverge from the interests of shareholders.

How do you get to Carnegie hall? Ruthlessly monopolize an entire industry and use the profits to build monuments to yourself. At least Carnegie was spending his own money, and at least he was supporting cultural and educational institutions rather than a brain damage factory.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:59 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


How do they benefit?

Probably some Florida congressmen that sit on the right committee and are alums of the college in question.
posted by empath at 12:03 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


How do they benefit? Don't underestimate the degree to which the interests of management can diverge from the interests of shareholders.

I think you're on to something justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow. This might be a case where George Zoley, the company's chairman/CEO/founder, wanted to give money to Florida Atlantic University (his alma mater) and felt that if the funds came from the company instead of his personal fortune, all the better. Maybe the stadium naming was something he could point to as just enough of a "fig leaf" as to discourage a shareholder lawsuit.
posted by RichardP at 12:09 AM on February 20, 2013


If they're giving the university money in return for naming rights, how on earth does that constitute 'gifting'? It's payment for services rendered.
posted by Dysk at 12:27 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


how on earth does that constitute 'gifting'?

I was going with the language from the articles linked in my post, which called the 6 million a 'gift', but I agree 'payment' is probably more accurate.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 12:33 AM on February 20, 2013


It's Florida Atlantic — that's the target demographic for private incarceration consumers and employees.
posted by klangklangston at 1:40 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


airing nerdy laundry: I was going with the language from the articles linked in my post, which called the 6 million a 'gift', but I agree 'payment' is probably more accurate.

Yeah, sorry, it was intended as a criticism of the articles, not you!
posted by Dysk at 1:50 AM on February 20, 2013


Corporate naming rights for athletic centers seems like it serves the same purpose as tagging a train car with graffiti, or peeing on a fire hydrant.

I will admit that the fact that TD named the "Fleet Center" the "TD Garden" when they bought the naming rights earned them a nice thought from me, since at least the word "Garden" is in the name again.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:19 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, naming your stadium after a prison? Kind of shows how the school views it's students.

Also, corporate naming rights are just ridiculous - especially when they keep fucking changing. If you auction off your naming rights then you're just going to end up transferring the name again later, it makes the whole thing impermanent.
posted by delmoi at 2:43 AM on February 20, 2013


Please hold your criticism until you've actually been to this beautiful stadium and enjoyed the delicious Nutraloaf Sliders at the SupperMax Cafe.
posted by orme at 4:13 AM on February 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


These days, over and over again, events that I'd dismiss as over the top if they were in an absurdist novel just keep happening in real life.

"To be 'Orwellian' is to speak with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening … and to do so without any pejorative whatsoever." -- Frank Luntz.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:58 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I suppose this is the current worst name for a Florida venue now that the 1-800-ASK-GARY Ampitheatre has finally gotten a name change.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:20 AM on February 20, 2013


Companies compete to get the govt contracts to manage prisons. So if you have name recognition it might help to get those contracts.
posted by evening at 5:38 AM on February 20, 2013


Also absurd: The Corrections Corporation of America - the first and largest private prison company in the country - is also celebrating Black History Month. Here's a blog post from their CEO about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation!
posted by rtha at 6:04 AM on February 20, 2013


College football (the institution, not the athletes) and for-profit prisons deserve each other.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:23 AM on February 20, 2013


I don't know why stadiums can't keep traditional names like Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:28 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know why stadiums can't keep traditional names like Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium.

Busch Stadium actually is named so because of naming rights. But they did it to preserve the name and not change it.
posted by Talez at 7:32 AM on February 20, 2013


I actually knew that! The investors' group that owns the stadium came to my high school around the time of the sale for a school-wise assembly/celebration. MICDS was a weird place. My oblique point was that there has been corporate naming for stadiums for a long time, but the older ones don't seem as egregious, for some reason. Maybe because AB and Wrigley are locally headquartered it didn't seem so tacky. Or maybe I was just used to it.

The Wikipedia article on naming rights asserts that Fenway Park was named after a realty company, and also says that Anheuser-Busch orginially tried to get Busch Stadium named Budweiser stadium, but it got rejected. So they named it Busch Stadium, and after the name was set in stone, they then invented Busch Beer to sell at the park!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:50 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


How does a for-profit prison company even benefit from name recognition?

The same way the American Legislative Exchange Council benefits from being mistaken as a legitimate 501(c)(3) organization.

See, corporations like the GEO group pay rackets um - greasy sharks in suits er - syndicates like ALEC to write bills that are "tough" on "crime" and by that of course meaning "completely subvert" the "foundations" of "justice" to serve a corporate agenda where you send otherwise harmless, or at the very least poorly resourced, people to jail for longer periods so GEO can benefit from them.

Recently we had some gun control arguments on the blue. My position is I want stronger sentencing for gun crimes. Someone else wants new gun laws. ALEC would get literature sent to both of us on stronger sentencing and new laws. They're textbook phish.
So on the gun bill (in whatever form palatable to whomever) you'd have riders for expanded drug sentencing and diminished alternatives to prison and more convictions for very minor offenses for juveniles, say.
The Kids for Cash scandal highlights the end result of the process. Bribing judges is a minor detail in the scam that is this industry.

So, yeah, they need to pretend they're legitimate. They need a front and a big public name to distract from their racketeering and corruption.
Like any organized crime syndicate, the "front" covers up the filthy sticking scum that they are.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:01 AM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


like klangklangston, I just see this is a way for the GEO Group to build goodwill with future inmates once the NCAA has finished extracting all of the football playing economic value from them.
posted by straw at 8:47 AM on February 20, 2013


Prisoners are profit! It's the last best hope for capitalism! It's the natural result of a morally bankrupt economic system! You poor people, keep smoking pot and getting arrested! You are the lifeblood of the new economy! God bless America!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:00 AM on February 20, 2013


I don't know why stadiums can't keep traditional names like Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium.

Sure, those are names of companies too, but they are also the last names of actual people.
posted by hwyengr at 10:02 AM on February 20, 2013


"You poor people, keep smoking pot and getting arrested! You are the lifeblood of the new economy! God bless America!"

Ayup.
posted by absalom at 2:47 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joey Michaels: "There should be public prisons for the poor and private prisons for the wealthy, just like with schools. That way, the rich could pay for themselves to be incarcerated. That would be a great incentive to arrest more rich people."

California is leading the charge on this. I love that Fullerton has a non refundable $100 deposit. I wonder what the rejection rate is.
posted by Mitheral at 9:27 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Mitheral's this link on how to transfer into the Redondo Beach jail-resort:

-You can provide proof of valid medical insurance that must remain in effect for the duration of the scheduled incarceration.
-You do not have an infectious disease*.

-All fees must be paid in cash** or with a cashier’s check only.
-You should have the exact amount for your stay, as we may be unable to provide change.


*Does having the common cold or the flu count?
** cash, you say?

If I could afford $200 a day, I would be sorely tempted even though my only experience has been in an Iowa City jail overnight on a couple of different occasions. But that's about $67,200 per year. I'm sure there are ways to charge up canteen cards or something for "luxuries," too, which adds to that yearly bill.

Although it's probably for mandatory DUI or civil "dispute" douchebag haven/heavens that last for a couple of days or at most a couple/few months or "minor" white-collar type crimes.
posted by porpoise at 10:05 PM on February 20, 2013


Looks like GEO Group just tried to sanitize their Wikipedia page.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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