On January 26, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to eliminate the use of privately operated criminal detention facilities, an order that has since proved alarmingly limited. While the order aimed to phase out the federal government’s reliance on private prisons, business appears to be booming for some private prison companies.
In the year since the order was issued, previously confidential documents of multibillion-dollar private prison company GEO Group have revealed a detailed strategy to increase its business with the government, including plans to exploit immigration court backlog and “border inflow” by tracking and detaining immigrants under immigration detention contracts with the government. GEO Group, in its own words, planned “to maintain its federal business interests despite Biden’s order,” an unsettling abuse against the order’s limits.
CREW has requested ICE records on communications with GEO Group and CoreCivic, another major private prison contractor, about the continuation of operating private detention facilities, profits from their operations, efforts, if any, to investigate the continued use of private detention facilities and involvement from the White House or Department of Justice.
Private prisons continue to reap profits from efforts like those of GEO Group. As of September 2021, GEO Group’s revenue from the previous twelve months was roughly $2.3 billion, and it continues to own, lease or manage over 100 properties around the world. The public should know the extent to which the federal government is maintaining business with private prisons, despite promises from Biden to do the opposite, and how, if at all, private prisons circumventing Biden’s executive order are being held accountable.