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PLN Sues The Geo Group for Public Records

On Dec. 2, 2005, Prison Legal News filed a civil suit against The Geo Group, Inc. (formerly Wackenhut Corrections) in the Circuit Court for Palm Beach, Florida, demanding access to public records held by the company.
The Geo Group is a for-profit company that operates privatized prisons, including two Florida prisons, and its contract-based fees are paid with public (taxpayer) funds. Pursuant to Florida's public records law, The Geo Group is required to produce requested public records pursuant to Public Records Law, F.S. 119.01(1).

Prison Legal News's editor, Paul Wright, submitted written public record requests to The Geo Group in April, 2005, requesting information related to lawsuits that resulted in settlements or verdicts against the company, as well as contract audits, violations and court-ordered injunctions. While The Geo Group provided a limited amount of information related to one category of the requested records, it ignored the other requests and never responded to a second record request submitted in September.

In its lawsuit, Prison Legal News alleges The Geo Group's failure to provide the requested public records is illegal, malicious and willful, and is designed to delay Prison Legal News from obtaining the records because they are critical of The Geo Group's operation of privatized prisons. The requested records would likely reveal details related to sexual harassment claims, riots and other disturbances, staff on prisoner attacks, prisoner on prisoner attacks, inadequate medical care, contract sanctions and other penalties, and court orders and injunctions against the company. The Geo Group has a lengthy nationwide record of abuses and security incidents at its privately-operated facilities. Many reported here in the pages of PLN.
Prison Legal News further claims The Geo Group's contracts for the operation of state correctional facilities are extremely profitable for the company. However, without the requested records the public cannot accurately determine whether or not the state, and the taxpayers, are receiving their money's worth and a fair return based on the contractual requirements, or whether those funds are being appropriately allocated for the prison-related services needed and paid for by the state.

PLN is represented by Lake Worth, Florida attorney Frank Kreidler. Mr. Kreidler has successfully sued private prison companies for public records on prior occasions. See: Prison Legal News v. The Geo Group, Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Case No. 50 2005 CA 011195 AA.

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Related legal case

Prison Legal News v. The Geo Group

The complaint in the case is available in the briefbank.