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PLN wins Florida public records suit against GEO Group

Prison Legal News, Jan. 1, 2010.
Press release - PLN wins Florida public records suit against GEO Group 2010

PRESS RELEASE

Prison Legal News – For Immediate Release

May 13, 2010

Publisher Prevails in Public Records Suit Against GEO Group; Obtains Records and $40,000 in Attorney Fees

Palm Beach, FL – Prison Legal News, a non-profit monthly publication that reports on criminal justice-related issues, announced today that it had prevailed in a public records suit filed against Boca Raton-based GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company.

Prison Legal News (PLN) filed the suit in 2005 under Florida’s public records law, after GEO failed to produce documents related to contractual violations and litigation against the company that resulted in settlements or verdicts. Under state law, GEO is required to comply with public records requests.

Over the past five years the Circuit Court granted four motions to compel against GEO ordering the company to produce the records. GEO finally did so just before a summary judgment hearing in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, providing a spreadsheet of successful litigation against the company and agreeing to pay $40,000 to PLN in attorney’s fees. GEO also produced copies of the complaints and settlements in ten lawsuits filed against the company that had resulted in the largest monetary payouts.

"While we are pleased with the eventual outcome of this case, we are disappointed that GEO decided to drag it out over five years, which was clearly a delaying tactic," stated PLN editor Paul Wright. "The public, which funds GEO’s for-profit prison operations through taxpayer dollars, deserves better in terms of compliance with Florida’s public records law."

PLN’s attorney, Frank Kreidler, who specializes in public records and Sunshine Law litigation, agreed. "This was a long, tough case in which GEO failed to produce the requested records years ago, which would have made them available to the public through PLN’s reporting. It is a disservice to the public when GEO fails to comply with the state’s public records statute."

The case is Prison Legal News v. The GEO Group, Inc., Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida for Palm Beach County, Case No.50 2005 CA 011195 AA. PLN was ably represented by attorney Frank A. Kreidler.

In other recent news, a report by the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy released on April 9 found it was uncertain whether private prisons in Florida produce savings of at least seven percent as required by state law. Further, the report found that there was insufficient data to determine the efficacy of education and rehabilitation programs provided by private prison companies. On April 13, Florida officials announced that GEO Group was losing its contracts to operate the Graceville and Moore Haven correctional facilities.

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Prison Legal News (PLN), founded in 1990 and based in Brattleboro, Vermont, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in U.S. detention facilities. PLN publishes a monthly magazine that includes reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners' rights and criminal justice issues. PLN has almost 7,000 subscribers nationwide and operates a website (www.prisonlegalnews.org) that includes a comprehensive database of prison and jail-related articles, news reports, court rulings, verdicts, settlements and related documents. PLN is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center.



For further information, please contact:

Paul Wright, Editor
Prison Legal News
P.O. Box 2420
Brattleboro, VT 05303
(802) 257-1342
pwright@prisonlegalnews.org

Frank A. Kreidler, Attorney
1124 S. Federal Highway
Lake Worth, FL 33460
(561) 586-6226
faklaw@yahoo.com


 


 

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