Private Prison GEO Group Subsidiary in the GPS Tracking Business of Immigrants

Mar 21, 2013
12:27 AM

Looks like the GEO Group, one of the country’s leading private prison corporations known for profiting from the detainment of immigrants through government contracts, has expanded its business plan, as a Boston Globe article from March 17 reported.

geo group

As the story begins:

Behind a smoky-glass door, a private company called BI Incorporated monitors immigrants facing deportation with office visits, surprise home inspections, and even GPS devices attached to their ankles, making sure they show up for immigration court or their final departure.

The program has boomed in recent years as deportations soared, and the White House has proposed expanding such monitoring because it is less expensive and more humane than immigration detention. But advocates for immigrants, who have clamored for alternatives to jail, now say the program has morphed into a profit-driven enterprise that subjects thousands of immigrants to scrutiny usually reserved for serious criminals.

“I don’t know why they put it on me. I’ve done everything they’ve asked,” said Norma Urbina, a petite 40-year-old seamstress from Honduras who has worn a GPS ankle monitor for more than a year, though she has no criminal record. “I have four children. Where am I going to go?”

The connection to the GEO Group is mentioned around the middle of the story:

BI, which stands for Behavioral Interventions, says its program costs less than $8 a day compared with $119 a day to keep an immigrant in jail. In 2009, ICE awarded BI a five-year contract worth $372.8 million.

The Boulder, Colo.-based company is a subsidiary of the Geo Group, which runs private prisons, and its reports portray the company as firm but compassionate, with bilingual staff who refer immigrants to food banks and shelters while ensuring that they comply with the law.

But as BI expanded rapidly in recent years, tracking more than 35,000 immigrants in 2011, advocates and others complained that the program treated immigrants facing civil violations more harshly than criminals. And, they worried that BI had a financial incentive to encourage ICE to heighten the monitoring.

For instance, 29 percent of the 21,000 immigrants in BI’s program wear GPS monitors, while in the criminal system, such intrusive devices are used more sparingly.

You don’t think this is all connected? From private prisons to tracking devices to naming rights for football stadiums, immigrants are big business. These two charts from MSNBC tell the picture pretty clearly.



Then you have this.

Yes, people, we are being played, and we stay quiet.