Friday, October 24, 2008

GEO/Wackenhut charged in prison murder in Texas

Private Prison Company GEO Group Indicted for Murder in Texas Prisoner's Death

By Private Corrections Institute
Censored News
Oct. 24, 2008

Raymondville, Texas – Yesterday, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra filed
a three-count murder indictment against Florida-based GEO Group (formerly known as
Wackenhut Corrections), the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company.
The grand jury’s two indictments for murder allege the GEO Group, “through its agents
... did intentionally or knowingly cause the death of Gregorio De La Rosa, Jr., ... by
allowing one or more inmates to physically assault the victim ...” while using deadly
weapons. A third indictment for manslaughter states the GEO Group caused the death
of De La Rosa through its employees within the scope of their employment, which
was “authorized, requested, commanded, performed, or recklessly tolerated” by the
Gregorio De La Rosa was incarcerated at a GEO Group-operated facility in Willacy
County when he was brutally murdered by two other prisoners on April 26, 2001. He
was bludgeoned to death with padlocks that had been placed in socks; he was four
days away from completing a six-month sentence for a drug-related offense.
GEO Group staff were reportedly aware that padlocks had been used as weapons in
other assaults prior to De La Rosa’s murder. A lawsuit filed by De La Rosa’s family
claimed that GEO Group employees “had a pattern and practice of allowing beatings
and fights between inmates for money, and a tradition of payback, whereby prisoners
were beaten just before their release." On September 15, 2006, a Willacy County jury
awarded a record $47.5 million in the wrongful death suit against GEO Group.
According to District Attorney Guerra, the problems in private prisons, including those
that result in preventable deaths, “are more than civil matters.” He stated the grand jury
had examined De La Rosa’s murder and determined that the GEO Group should be
held “criminally responsible for the death of this particular inmate.” Guerra noted the
murder indictment will send a clear message to private prison companies that criminal
conduct will not be tolerated; he further observed it is the government’s responsibility
to oversee for-profit prison firms and hold them accountable.
Charlie Cray, Director of the Center for Corporate Policy, said it was “very uncommon”
for companies to be charged with murder or manslaughter, and that criminal charges,
which are often based on the discretion of prosecutors, are only filed in “very egregious”
cases of corporate misconduct.
The Private Corrections Institute (PCI) is a non-profit citizen watchdog organization that
works to educate the public about the significant dangers and pitfalls associated with
the privatization of correctional services. PCI maintains an online collection of news
reports and other resources related to the private prison industry, and holds the position
that for-profit prisons have no place in a free and democratic society.
For further information, please contact:
Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director
Private Corrections Institute
1114 Brandt Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32
(850) 980-0887

Alex Friedmann, Vice President
Private Corrections Institute
5341 Mt. View Road #130
Antioch, TN 37013
(615) 495-6568

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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