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viewpoint

In response to student strikes

| Wednesday, September 9, 2020

As a graduate of Notre Dame, it is good to see students who are passionate about bringing injustices to the forefront, and I agree that the community should engage in dialogue when change is needed. However, student efforts aimed at GEO Group are unfortunately based on misinformation at best and intentional dishonesty at worst. I have worked for GEO for 20 years, and each day we strive to treat those entrusted to our care with compassion, dignity and respect, no exceptions. It is why we consistently meet the high standards set forth by our government partners and independent accreditation entities.

Our reentry and rehabilitation programming across the country has proven successful in supporting those being released from prison with the tools and support needed to succeed in the community and avoid reoffending –– and thus returning –– to prison. Thus, it is wholly inaccurate to accuse our company of seeking to fill beds, while we are in fact, doing quite the opposite, as we invest in the success and empowerment of those entrusted to our care.

The GEO Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is an enhanced, evidence-based offender rehabilitation program that has proven to reduce recidivism by combining in-custody programming (academic and vocational training, substance abuse treatment, and faith and character-based strategies) followed by post–release support services (transitional housing, clothing, food, transportation and job placement assistance).

Participants opting into CoC at our Blackwater River Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility in Florida, for example, experienced a 40% reduction in recidivism in 2018. At our two correctional facilities in Indiana, we awarded more than 250 GEDs, more than 1,000 vocational certifications in 2019 and offenders completed more than 1,700 individual behavioral courses, such as Life Skills and Thinking for a Change.

At our Rivers Correctional Institution, 100% of our Washington D.C. offender population is currently enrolled in one-on-one case management offered by GEO, and of the participants released in 2018, only 2% returned to federal custody within a year.

We have been a trusted service provider to the federal government for over three decades, under Democratic and Republican administrations, and during this time, our dedicated employees have provided culturally-responsive, humane residential care at all of our facilities. To be clear, we have never played a role in setting immigration or criminal justice policy, nor have we ever advocated for or against enforcement or sentencing policies. At our immigration facilities, we have 24/7 medical services, modern recreation amenities, nutritionist-approved meals responsive to a diverse range of dietary needs and access to legal counsel.

I welcome the Notre Dame community to reach out to learn about what we do and do not do as a government service provider, and to learn about our facilities, our staff and the vocational, educational and supportive services we offer to those in our care.

Brian Evans

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for The GEO Group, Inc.

class of ’90

Sept. 4

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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