4

GEO: Private-Prison Company Somehow Keeps Getting Contracts In Texas

^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

When Arthur William Brown left his Houston halfway house December 15, he did the usual: he signed the check-out form that residents of the facility have to sign whenever they leave the premises for the day. Only on that day, Brown, paroled after serving 31 years for aggravated sexual assault of two women and a 16-year-old child, had his bags packed. He signed his name and walked out, and even though he had a GPS locked on his ankle, it didn't look like he intended to return. 

Five days later authorities alerted the media, providing Brown's photo and a warning that he was considered armed and extremely dangerous.It was now up to law enforcement to find and arrest him, because the second Brown left the property, he was no longer the problem of the company that ran the halfway home, GEO Group. All the staff there had to do, per their contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, was alert authorities within an hour.

Brown was the fourth parolee to just walk away from the Reid facility in two years.  

Fortunately, he was arrested Christmas Eve. But in October, when Anthony Ferrell left the property, police say he shot and killed a man before he was found again. The victim was 24-year-old Sam Irick, who tried to protect a woman Ferrell was robbing at gunpoint.

Irick's death, and the escape of a violent rapist two months later, is of no financial or contractual consequence to the publicly traded GEO, which recently bought out Houston-based Cornell Companies. Legally, GEO did absolutely nothing wrong. An average of one escape every six months appears to be acceptable to TDCJ, as well as GEO's shareholders.

And while GEO has lost contracts with TDCJ, it picks up new ones as well. On the surface, private prisons appear to offer a cheaper per-diem cost per offender, but critics say there are many hidden costs, both financial and personal. This week's story looks at some of those costs.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.