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Geo Corp is a world-wide privately owned prison operation.  According to the company's own history, it obtained its first prison contract in 1987, holding 150 immigration prisoners in Aurora, Colorado.  

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     Image 1: Geo Corp private prison transport, I-5, Washington, 3/20/13.
The company, operating though various subsidiaries, expanded to run prisons in various states in the U.S. as well as Australia, the United Kingdom and South Africa.  The company fared well under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and came to be operating not only prisons, but also a drug rehabilitation center and a psychiatric hospital, all for profit derived solely from the public fisc, through the magic of crony capitalism.

By 2005, the company was holding over 48,000 people in various forms of custody.  In 2007, the company set up Geo Transport, which moves prisoners from facility to facility throughout the United States.  

In the Pacific Northwest, Geo Corp runs a prison (ostensibly a "detention center") for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency ("ICE") in the industrial district in Tacoma Washington.   There are over 1,000 persons incarcerated in this facility.  Technically, they are held on "civil" proceedings, specifically, they are charged with immigration violations rather than criminal offenses.  But the facility has the full panoply of prison features.

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     Image 2: Geo Corp private prison transport; note bars on window.
Immigration detainees from the State of Oregon were once held in local jails and transported to the immigration court, usually in Portland, Oregon, for their hearings.  

Once Geo Corp built its Tacoma prison, in about 2003, all ICE prisoners from the state of Oregon were transported to that facility.

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      Image 3: Geo prison transport: barred windows, worldwide logo.
Originally transport was effected by federal employees.  Now Geo Transport has taken over that task.  The typical route from Oregon is simply north from Portland up to Tacoma on I-5.

Essentially with Geo Transport, a person accused of an immigration violation would spend very little time in ICE custody and almost the entire time in the custody of the private corporation.

On March 20, 2013, I was travelling to a conference with another immigration lawyer and we happened to pass the Geo private transport bus.  Most people who saw this bus would not realize that it was a privately-run prison transport.

I snapped these photos.  I did not however attempt to photograph the front of the bus -- I honestly felt it could result problems with Homeland Security if we were seen to pull in front of the bus and start snapping photographs.

Geo Corp needs prisons and it needs prisoners to survive -- here's a relevant quote [omitting the blather] from one of its SEC disclosure statements

... most of our revenues are generated under facility management contracts which provide for per diem payments based upon daily occupancy. ... many of our contracts have no minimum revenue guarantees and simply provide for a fixed per diem payment for each inmate/detainee/patient actually housed. ... we are highly dependent upon the governmental agencies ... to provide inmates, detainees and patients ... a decrease in our occupancy rates could cause a decrease in revenues and profitability. Recently, in California and Michigan for example, there have been recommendations for the early release of inmates to relieve overcrowding conditions ... a material decrease in occupancy levels at one or more of our facilities could have a material adverse effect on our revenues and profitability, and consequently, on our financial condition and results of operations.
Needless to say, as reported on ThinkProgress two years ago (link), the private prison industry, including Geo Corp, has been assiduously lobbying at all levels of the government, they claim only to provide lower cost incarceration services, and not to increase the overall number of persons incarcerated.  I wonder.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 10:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group.

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The private prison industry claims all their lobbying is not intended to increase the rate of incarceration in the U.S. Do you believe them?

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