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Privatisation of the prison industry: Wackenhut, GSL etc.

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mr anderson:
Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) was a private company owned by Wackenhut, a subsidiary of multinational security giant Group 4 Securicor. From 1998 until 2003 ACM was responsible for running at least six refugee detention centres in Australia. ACM also ran the Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP)[1] in New Zealand from its opening in July 2000 until control reverted to the Public Prisons Service in July 2005 due to the passing of the Corrections Bill 2005 [2].

ACM attracted strong criticism from the Australian left for alleged abuses of refugees detained in its facilities[3]. This climaxed with the massive Easter 2002 protest at the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre. This became part of the inspiration for the video game Escape From Woomera.

--- Quote ---May 2002 – Wackenhut Corporation is acquired by Group 4 Falck, the Danish Security firm. With this acquisition, Group 4 Falck becomes the largest security firm in the world, with assets of over $5 billion. There has been much discussion that Group 4 Falck would sell off the Wackenhut corrections division of Wackenhut, but this has yet to mate -
--- End quote ---

Perhaps in part due to bad publicity over the refugee centres ACM handed over the running of the Australian detention centres to its parent company Group 4 Falck (now Group 4 Securicor) in 2003. It also changed the name of its New Zealand wing to Global Expertise in Outsourcing NZ ltd (GEO) while it was still running ACRP. The GEO Group Australia is still running prisons such as the Metropolitan Remand Centre in Victoria.

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Wackenhut Corrections – Problem Contracts

Australasian Correctional Management – Immigration Detention Centres

ACM operates 15 correctional facilities in Australia including the infamous Baxter, Port Hedland, Woomera (closed, early 2003), Christmas Island (closed, early 2003) and Villawood detention centres. ACM has been accused of maintaining a “culture” at facilities like Woomera and the new Baxter institutions that includes frequent random searches, head counts, sleep deprivation and the refusal by the authorities to provide timely medical care. Paul Griffiths of the Refugee Action Committee recently commented in the Canberra times that the recently built Baxter Detention Centre “was designed to be ultra-secure…something out of Orwell’s 1984…One detainee told how, in isolation, some people have had their hands tied with a bracelet, been blindfolded and beaten, stripped naked and put into a room 2m by 2m, and watched by a camera”. He notes that a man who broke his leg went 16 days without treatment, only to be given care when he threatened personal damage. The environment at Baxter has lead to continuous small protests that are punished with physical violence or isolation.

With the reduction in the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat, the emphasis has shifted towards pressuring asylum seekers and refugees to voluntarily repatriate. The refugee action committee notes that the “incredible psychological damage suffered in detention is…a necessary part of the business of collective punishment deterrence and repatriation." For more information, see, "The detainees have good cause to rebel" by Phil Griffiths, Canberra Times, Friday January 3rd, 2003. Ray Hartigan of the Woomera Lawyers Group told Melbourne's Sunday "Herald Sun" in 2002 that he had observed a marked deterioration. "ACM takes teenagers off the dole queues in places like Port Augusta, trains them for two and a half days, and pays them $1,000 a week. They do as they're told because the money is good and they don't want to go back on the dole." In June 2000, 500 people broke out of the Woomera detention centre and 250 broke out in Port Hedland and Curtin. While free for a brief time, some detainees told the media of verbal and sexual abuse, sexual assault, and mental distress.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists advised its members not to accept jobs with ACM and called on staff to boycott the immigration centres because of serious concerns about the company’s treatment of asylum seekers, including "children and unaccompanied minors…these are environments which are fundamentally traumatizing and disturbing to the people in there." ACM’s parent company Wackenhut Corrections Corporation’s fourth quarter 2001 profits were boosted by the influx of refugees to Australia. WCC’s chief executive officer George Zoley referred to "positive Australian immigration centre contract performance." The Australian Financial Review, 12 April 2002, reported that 3,600 refugees arrived in the second half of 2001 but the number of detainees has fallen from 3,000 to 1,300 over the past eight months.

In March 2001, the Australian Ombudsman released a report stating that there are systematic deficiencies in the management of these facilities, including "racial abuse of detainees, inappropriate use of force and trashing of detainees rooms by ACM staff; overcrowding; unduly long periods of detention; reports of sexual assaults on women and children; and incidents of attempted suicide and other violence arising from tensions associated with the detention centres. Said reporter Duncan Kerr in the Canberra times: "it is a story of unjustified secrecy, apparent mismanagement, and neglect of our duties towards some of the most powerless people within our national borders."

Following all of this negative press about ACM’s contracts, it was announced by the Australia Department of Corrections that ACM’s contract would be put up for re-bidding, and in September 2002 a contractor would be chosen (though ACM is still in the bidding) [The above information taken from: "Dollars, but no sense", Jill Singer, The Herald Sun (Australia), January 25th, 2002; "Wackenhut, Woomera, and Thinking the Unthinkable", Bob Briton, The Guardian (Australia), March 20, 2002; "The Detainers", Australian Financial Review, December 15th, 2001; Prison Privatization Report International, No.45, January 2002; "Sell-offs Devalue the Public Good", Duncan Kerr, Canberra Times, March 13th, 2001]

More on ACM and the detention centres from Prison Privatisation Report International issue 46, May 2002 or from the Refugee Action committee website,, see specifically:

- The contract between ACM and the department of immigration and multicultural affairs (DIMA) to run the Woomera detention centre north of Adelaide shows that it costs $A109,000 per day to detain 785 asylum seekers, according to The Australian, 31 January 2002. ACM was also receiving $A70 per day for each of the 700 detainees at Port Hedland in Western Australia.

- Three officers employed by ACM at Woomera detention centre who allegedly seized, interrogated and assaulted a 13 year old unaccompanied Afghani boy have been given their jobs back after first being fired in March 2002 over the December 2001 incident. The officers were reinstated after ACM held an internal investigation into the incident. The outcome of a police inquiry is awaited. A former detention centre medical doctor who both witnessed and reported the incident told The Age, 20 April 2002, that he examined the boy for bruising around the neck and a welt on his face.

- ACM has lost a Supreme Court appeal against a decision to pay workers compensation to a former officer at Port Hedland detention centre. Todd Francis suffered post traumatic stress disorder after he led officers dealing with a riot in May 2001. He has been unable to work since the riot and, in August 2001, ACM fired him. Western Australia Workcover ordered ACM to pay Mr Francis compensation back dated to June but ACM appealed.

- The Adelaide Magistrates Court has ordered the DIMA to produce some 50 boxes of documents relating to Australia’s detention centres and, in particular, video tapes of incidents at the Woomera detention centre. The court is hearing the case of four Iranian men who escaped from the Woomera facility in November 2001and who are claiming that they are being held as a form of punishment rather than administrative reasons.

- The human rights commissioner of New South Wales has launched an inquiry into the adequacy and appropriateness of Australia’s treatment of child asylum seekers and other children who are or have been held in immigration detention centres.

Australasian Correctional Management – Port Hedland Immigration Detention Centre (Perth, Australia)

– 1999. The Miscellaneous Workers Union has accused ACM of unfair work practices at the detention centre including replacement of trained staff with less well paid, inexperienced local workers. Of the 30 original staff, only 4 remained after just over a year. Other issues were non-payment of overtime wages and health and  safety concerns.

Australasian Correctional Management – Fulham Correctional Facility – tear gas was used on August 18th, 1999.

The prisoners set fires and refused to return to their cells in protest over planned overcrowding at the prison. ACM had agreed to take 60 extra prisoners despite having reached its capacity of 600.

Australasian Correctional Management – Melbourne Custody Centre

Prisoner Ian Lamb died in November 2000 after being arrested for drunkenness and placed in the custody centre. After informing the duty nurse that he had also taken 6 mogadon tablets, Lamb fell into what was mistaken as a ‘deep sleep’ and died of  "aspiration of vomitus and toxicity to alcohol and nitrazepam" According to the Victoria state coroner, "The case raises serious concerns about the training and monitoring of custody staff when charged with the responsibility of managing intoxicated persons. Apart from Mr Mathieson [the shift manager on the night in question], none of the staff was aware as to what was comprehended by the half hourly checks ...with the exception of Mr Mathieson, all the custody officers displayed a lamentable lack of familiarity with the requirements of the policy in relation to intoxicated prisoners," She also stated, ""I am satisfied that the management of the deceased ... was sub-optimal."

Illegal use of Promis Software – as director of research for a joint venture between Wackenhut and the Cabazon Indians of Indio, California, Michael Riconosciuto made modifications to a pirated version of PROMIS, a software program which is used by Canadian law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The modifications make PROMIS monitorable by outside interests. The investigation, which goes well beyond Riconosciuto and Wackenhut, is still pending. (See Insight on the News. "The Plot Thickens in PROMIS Affair." Feb 5th)

From a Wackenhut employee to journalist Gregory Palast: "My 15 months in the prison were hell on earth. I’ll never go back to Wackenhut." ("Wackenhut's Free Market in Human Misery", Greg Palast, The Observer (London), September 26, 1999

Bob Briton, writing in The Guardian (Australia) regarding Wackenhut and its former immigration detention centre at Woomera: "Under the cover of "defending Australia's sovereignty from attack by illegal immigrants", we now have a system of concentration camps run by a company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of a US corporation that has specialised in strike breaking, guarding nuclear testing and waste facilities and which compiled dossiers on three million US citizens suspected of being crypto-communists!" ("Wackenhut, Woomera and thinking the unthinkable", Bob Briton, The Guardian March 20, 2002

--- Quote ---The Guardian March 20, 2002
Wackenhut, Woomera and thinking the unthinkable

by Bob Briton

It seems that it is the season for thinking the unthinkable. At the international level, aside from the waging of an endless "war on terrorism", we have the US administration talking openly about the possible future uses of nuclear weapons in a way that used to take place only in secret.

In Australia we have legislation that converts ASIO into a secret police and other rule changes to prevent public officials from alerting the public to abuses of government power. Under the cover of "defending Australia's sovereignty from attack by illegal immigrants", we now have a system of concentration camps run by a company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of a US corporation that has specialised in strike breaking, guarding nuclear testing and waste facilities and which compiled dossiers on three million US citizens suspected of being crypto-communists!

Australasian Correctional Management was registered in Australia in 1991 and was the successful tenderer for the job of managing the country's Immigration Detention Centres and to provide detention transport services.

They were also able to take advantage of the boom in private prisons. They have operated the Arthur Gory Remand and Reception Centre in Queensland since 1992, the Junee Correctional Centre in NSW since 1993, the Fulham Correctional Centre in Victoria since 1997 and took charge of the Melbourne Custody Centre last year.

Among its other "achievements", ACM has managed to reduce the cost to the Federal Government of keeping an asylum seeker in detention from $145 per day three years ago to only $112 today. All in all, ACM's is a story of startling growth. More startling still is its relationship to its US parent company Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC).

WCC is the US's second biggest corporate jailer. Of the nearly two million US citizens behind bars, 100,000 are in the private prisons that form part of what has been called the "prison industrial complex".

WCC has about 17,000 beds at 24 facilities in the US. It is an arm of the Wackenhut Corporation which has an annual turnover of $2.2 billion and enjoys a place on the Forbes Magazine Platinum List of the best big companies in the US. It is underwritten by Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

Wackenhut Corporation is named after its founder George R Wackenhut, who was described by Britain's Observer Life Magazine as a "more than usually right wing businessman". He now lives in a mock castle in Florida and has a yacht called Top Secret. His official biography is called The Quiet American, a title borrowed from the Graham Greene novel about an intelligence officer in French Indo-China.

Before opening shop as a private investigator and then starting up a private security firm, he was an FBI agent. He found work for many other former FBI staffers in his new outfit. Former Deputy Director of the CIA, Frank Carlucci and former Head of Defence Intelligence, General Joseph Carol have also found places on the Corporation's board.

Wackenhutt soon found itself in charge of security at top-secret nuclear facilities like the Nevada Test Site and the Savanna Ridge Site where  weapons grade plutonium is produced. It guards other testing and nuclear waste dump facilities for the US Department of Energy. Since 1957 it has  provided security at around 20 US embassies and diplomatic missions.

As mentioned previously, George Wackenhut took it upon himself to keep files on three million Americans he thought to be crypto-communists. By the late 1960s this was largest collection of private surveillance data in the US. Civic-minded George reportedly handed the information over to his former employer, the FBI.

It hasn't all been plain sailing for Wackenhut, though. The "corrections" arm of the corporation has come in for a lot of adverse public attention from the early days of its separate existence in the 1990's. Its prisons have a reputation hiring often incompetent, unqualified guards.

In 1999, 12 of WCC's prison guards were charged with raping and assaulting women prisoners in a Texas jail. In February this year, the US Justice  Department accused guards at a Juvenile Detention Centre in Louisiana of habitually using excessive force. It also accused WCC authorities of  allowing fights over items like food and clothing. Juvenile detainees have since been relocated and WCC has reluctantly agreed to find some other use for the centre.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Wackenhut subsidiary ACM has been accused of maintaining a "culture" at facilities like Woomera that includes  frequent random searches, head counts and sleep deprivation. Ray Hartigan of the Woomera Lawyers Group told Melbourne's Sunday "Herald Sun" that he was impressed by the guards when he visited the detainees two years ago.

Since then, the former administrator of the Catholic St Vincent de Paul charity has observed a marked deterioration. "ACM takes teenagers off the dole queues in places like Port Augusta, trains them for two and a half days, and pays them $1,000 a week. They do as they're told because the money is good and they don't want to go back on the dole."

Mr Hartigan now believes that the centre is run on principles aimed to disorient and oppress inmates.

It is a mark of just how conditioned the public is to thinking the unthinkable that the use of water cannons on the Woomera detainees is quickly forgotten in the rush of even more shocking news. This was the first time a water cannon has been used on civilians in Australia and it was used by a private company on a group of asylum seekers in a privately run concentration camp in a prohibited area in the outback.

So, while the Wackenhut subsidiary and its partners earn $98 million a year for running Australia's refugee centres, the Federal Government is having a review of the system. Already we have been told that the Woomera facility is to be kept even though it now appears that the strategy of intercepting and warehousing asylum seekers offshore is to be enhanced. Christmas Island
is to have a permanent facility and it appears that the "Pacific Solution" is to become part of a "Final Solution".

Woomera is to have some additional funds lavished on it to plant out the grounds and take away some of its hellish appearance. There will be more air conditioners installed — contrary to the media-created impression, not all of the transportable huts have air-conditioning as a defence against the 40 degree centigrade plus temperatures frequently experienced during summer or the cold desert nights at other times. The Baxter site at El Alemain is reportedly ready to receive some of Woomera's overflow within
the next few weeks.

As surely as night follows day, the reports of the mistreatment of asylum seekers will continue to filter out from behind the razor wire.
--- End quote ---

mr anderson:
Australia: Victoria to end contracts?

No. 32 November 2000 | ISSN 1363-9552
Prison Privatisation Report International

Published in London by the Prison Reform Trust

The newly elected minority Labour Government of Victoria is taking legal advice on how soon it can terminate  three prison management contracts initiated by the former  administration.

On 1 November 1999, Andre Haermeyer, the  Minister for Corrections and Police told The Age that “our commitment is to extract ourselves from those contracts at the earliest legal opportunity. However, that doesn’t mean we are going to fork out large amounts of money.”

He added: “We don’t care who owns the facilities. We do care who runs them and we basically want the profit motive taken out of running the prisons.”

Corrections Corporation of Australia, Australasian Correctional Management and Group 4 currently own and operate the three facilities. While their ownership appears not to be under threat, the companies are opposed to early termination of their management contracts.

The companies have 20 year contracts to provide accommodation services. Correctional services are provided on renewable five year contracts.

Victoria’s three private prisons hold more than half of the State’s prisoners.   

The contract for the first of Victoria’s three private prisons, CCA’s Metropolitan Women’s Prison, states that the Minister “may at any time” notify the contractor if any of the optional five further three year terms are to be put out to tender.

If bids are to be called for, then the existing operator “may submit a tender” but “the Minister may elect to accept or reject any tender received.”

The Government also has the right to terminate the contract if correctional services requirements are not met over a period of time.

One of the legal issues at stake is whether these criteria might apply in any of the three cases.

CCA’s management contract for the Women’s Prison expires in 2000. Group 4’s management contract for Port Phillip and ACM’s for Fulham Correctional Centre expire in 2002.

The director of Victoria’s Jesuit Social Services welcomed the minister’s announcement. Father Peter Norden said that the privatisation of Victoria’s prisons had been a “failed social experiment.”

It is also now unlikely that the former government’s proposals for another private adult facility, a new facility for young offenders and the expansion of the Fulham Correctional Centre will be implemented.

Three of the ministers in the former government who failed to gain re-election were responsible for plans to develop a privatised youth detention facility. Two had chosen their respective constituencies as prospective locations for the facility.

Victoria’s contracts published

One of the last acts of the former Government of Victoria was to lose its three year legal battle to prevent the publication, under the Freedom of Information Act, of the financial details of its contracts with private prison firms  (see PPRI # 13, 23, 25 and 30).

In a written decision on 17 September 1999, the  Court of Appeal of Victoria’s Supreme Court upheld the Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision of 20 May and rejected the Government’s argument that publishing the financial details of the contracts would hinder competition.

It also held  that full disclosure of the contracts, rather than commercial confidentiality, was in the public interest.  Only certain specifications relating to prison  security are to remain confidential.

The Department of Justice was refused leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.

The legal costs of the Government’s intransigence is borne by taxpayers: another hidden cost of privatisation.

The most controversial details disclosed are the annual performance fees which the companies can earn regardless of whether they meet performance targets (see table below).

But it is still impossible to determine whether the former Government’s original claims for cost efficiencies can be substantiated as proper comparators do not exist.

The details released relate to three contracts:

Wackenhut Corrections Corporation’s Australian joint venture, Australasian Correctional Investment Ltd, which financed, designed and built the Fulham Correctional Centre in eastern Victoria. Wackenhut’s subsidiary Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) has a five year management contract for the facility;

Excor Investments Pty Ltd, Corrections Corporation of America’s joint venture company which financed, designed and built the Metropolitan Women’s Prison. Corrections Corporation of Australia runs the facility;

Australian Correctional Facilities Pty Ltd, Group 4's joint venture, which financed, designed and built Port Phillip Prison. Group 4 Corrections Services Pty Ltd runs Port Phillip.


1. Fulham Correctional Centre and Port Phillip Prison both have a capacity of 600 beds. Metropolitan Women’s Prison’s capacity is 150 beds.

2. The fees for providing accommodation services also covers the company’s debts for the financing of construction.

3. Figures for accommodation and correctional services are for the first year of the contract. Subsequent years have been adjusted for inflation and wage rates.

Although Group 4 managed to  negotiate slightly higher fees for providing accommodation and correctional services, Wackenhut negotiated the  most favourable terms, including: a payment of A$475,000 per year for the first five years for the risk of any change in the law which might affect the contract; concessions from the local council for utilities; and a higher start up fee than Group 4 received for a broadly similar contract.

Corrections Corporation of Australia’s financial penalty for any escape is A$20,000 compared with the A$75,000 which can be imposed on Group 4 and ACM.

Tear gas used at ACM prison

Tear gas was used to quell an incident at Australasian Correctional Management (ACM, Wackenhut) run Fulham Correctional Centre on 18 August 1999.

The prisoners set fires and refused to return to their cells in protest over planned overcrowding at the prison. Damage estimated at A$100,000 was caused.

ACM had agreed to take an extra 60 prisoners despite the prison having reached its capacity of 600.

More tear gas at CCA’s prison

Three staff  were injured during a nine hour disturbance by prisoners at Corrections Corporation of Australia’s Metropolitan Women’s Prison, Melbourne, on 23 August 1999.

The Police Special Operations Group was called in to help regain control. According to Victoria’s  correctional services commissioner, tear gas was used “as a last resort”.

Tear gas was also used on 17 October 1999 after prisoners at the facility protested about overcrowding. Some 35 women were housed in a unit designed for 24.

Amanda George of the Federation of Community Legal Centres alleged that using chemical weapons twice in three months indicated that “the prison was in crisis”.

Liberty Victoria has called for an inquiry into the use of tear gas.

A coroner’s inquest into the self inflicted death of prisoner Paula Richardson has heard that she called prison staff on an intercom many times during the hours before her death on 11 September 1998.

Ms Richardson was eventually found dead in her cell with a shower curtain around her neck.

Other evidence included: Ms Richardson had been forcibly strip searched by male officers two months prior to her death. Company policy was that only officers of the same gender should conduct strip searches; Ms Richardson’s foster mother had warned prison authorities of the risk of suicide; CCA’s operations co-ordinator, Ms Gaylene Coram, claimed that she was unaware of Ms Richardson’s history of self harm and suicide attempts.

Two for Tasmania

Two new prisons should be put out to tender but “at least one should remain under public management” concluded a Legislative Council Select Committee of the Parliament of Tasmania.

The Committee’s report, published in September 1999, recommended that two existing prisons should be replaced.

But the Attorney General, Peter Patmore, is opposed to the concept of private prisons. “I believe the Government has a responsibility to run the prisons itself,” he said.

Health services short list

     Western Australia’s Justice Ministry has short listed Pacific Shores Health Care (Wackenhut) and St. Vincent Hospital, Melbourne in a competition for a contract to provide prison health services (see PPRI # 30).

Wackenhut wins another

       Australasian Correctional Management Ltd (ACM) has won a contract from the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to run a new immigration reception and processing centre at Curtin, Western Australia.

The facility has a capacity for up to 270 detainees and is expected to generate annual revenues of around US$6m.

ACM now manages five detention facilities with a capacity of 1,390 beds in Australia.

mr anderson:
Profiting from Punishment
By Paul Moyle, Australian Institute of Criminology

More details

Profiting from Punishment: Private Prisons in Australia : Reform Or Regression?
By Paul Moyle, Australian Institute of Criminology

Edition: Illustrated
Published by Pluto Press Australia, 2000
ISBN 1864030968, 9781864030969 | 461 pages

mr anderson:
Wackenhut, repackaged and "innocently disguised" attempts comeback

Media Release
Tuesday March 16 2004 - 12:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

Wackenhut, the parent company of Australasian Correctional Management or ACM, the detention company who lost last year its second bid to run Australian detention centres, has recently re-launched itself under another name on the New York Stock Exchange as a new company, with a new CEO and a new Executive team - and it now attempts a buy-out.

Global Expertise in Outsourcing, or GEO Group Inc. is the new name for Wackenhut Corporation, and its Australian company, formerly calling itself ACM, is now called GEO Australia Pty Ltd.

Website address:


Wackenhut's shady past is marred by controversy, not just in Australia under its subsidiary ACM, with abuse and human rights violations, resulting in hunger strikes, riots and escapes.

In the USA legal action were taken over reported arms trade with third world countries using the cover of North-American Indian Reservations and sexual assaults on detainees by Wackenhut staff.


With a Mission Statement which strongly alludes to making a break with its often controversial past - even to the point that no references to its past flood its perception and new image, GEO states:

"Every day is a commencement. The end of one thing and, at the same time, the start of something new. It is a gift in which to exercise our talents in concert with our fellow employees on behalf of our newly-named company, The GEO Group. GEO aspires to be a world leader in government outsourced services that are diversified in their scope and uniquely professional in their quality. This vision can only be accomplished and sustained by an organization that has the necessary depth of talent which is united in its purpose. Working together, we will shape our remarkable new future one day at a time."


GEO also prides itself about running "Religious/Faith-based Programs" because "When an offender changes his values system, he changes his behavior. Religious programming is an important element in offender rehabilitation." ...


"to include a voluntary, faith-based, residential Bible college where offenders can earn a Bible degree through correspondence courses. We also work closely with the Kairos Ministry and other religious groups to provide expanded faith-based programs..."

For an outline of the KAIROS Ministries, reportedly linked to the outreach service of the Wagga Wagga Anglican Church, see the website link:

Project SafeCom's coordinator, Jack H Smit, commented that this attempt, first Wackenhut's new disguise under its new name, new CEO, and new "quasi-religious" cover of coperations, is in itself nothing else than a set of strategic con-man methods. "Nothing that Wackenhut and ACM does under another name or in another time, can undo its criminal past."

"The Australian government ought to be well warned about making any future deals with this company - and on this occasion, the ALP's push to return detention contracts back into the hands of the Australian public service ought to be promoted fiercely within government ranks."


Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
Phone 0417 090 130


1. MEDIA RELEASE Service Employees International Union

Security Firm With Troubled Past May Regain Contract to Run Immigration Detention Centres

March 16
/PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

The Geo Group, Inc., Formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., Makes Offer to Buy Centres' Current Management Firm

Wackenhut Corrections Corp., the parent company of private security firm Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), which ran six Australian immigration detention centres from 1998-2002 -- and whose tenure there was marked by shocking allegations of human rights abuses and other problems -- might soon return to manage the centres. ACM lost the contract to run the centres less than two years ago.

Wackenhut Corrections, now known as The Geo Group, Inc., has made a conditional offer worth GBP200 million to acquire the firm currently managing the centres, Global Solutions, a subsidiary of Denmark-based security conglomerate Group 4 Falck. The offer was made public on 5 March by Group 4 Falck CEO Lars Norby Johansen.

Group 4 Falck is proposing to merge with the British security firm, Securicor. The U.S. subsidiaries of both Group 4 Falck and Securicor are facing mounting criticism by unions and public officials in the U.S. and Europe over poor labour standards and security problems. The largest trade union of private security officers in the U.S., the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), has been raising concerns about the merger to Group 4 Falck's clients and shareholders.

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer, Anna Burger, said: "A name change cannot erase history. Australians have a right to know how the Geo Group would do things differently this time around."

The history of the management of the detention centres is an incestuous tangle of global security firms and their subsidiaries. ACM's parent company, the former Wackenhut Corrections, was an arm of U.S. security firm, the Wackenhut Corporation, which was acquired by Group 4 Falck in April 2002. A separate Group 4 Falck subsidiary, Global Solutions, took over the contract at the immigration detention centres from the Wackenhut-owned ACM in December 2002. When Global Solutions took over the contract, a government opposition spokesperson called the switch, "a distinction without a difference" as both companies were owned by Group 4 Falck. Several months later, Group 4 Falck sold off Wackenhut Corrections. Wackenhut Corrections announced it was changing its name to The Geo Group, Inc. on 1 December 2003.

Wackenhut Corrections/ACM ran six immigration detention centres in Australia: Curtin, Port Hedland, Perth, Woomera, Villawood and Maribyrnong. The company was paid A$328 million during the life of the contract from early 1998 until December 2002.

The tenure of ACM at the detention centres was marred by a string of hunger strikes, riots, escapes and human rights violations, widely reported in the Australian and international media. ACM's operations became the subject of inquiries by a parliamentary joint committee and also by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, whose chief investigator described Woomera as "a great human tragedy" with conditions that were "inhumane and degrading".

Additionally, the results of an investigation published last September by Business Review Weekly discovered a "serious contractual breach relating to ACM". The publication reported that ACM had been served a default notice by the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs sometime between March 2001 and September 2002. According to Business Review Weekly, a default notice is one of the most serious penalties available under a contract between the government and a private contractor.

There have been multiple problems at detention centres and prisons run by Group 4 Falck and its subsidiaries around the world. According to The Australian, Group 4 Falck ran the Yarl's Wood holding centre north of London that burned to the ground in February 2002, as well as Melbourne's Port Philip Prison, where four inmates died from hanging in April 2000, prompting a government inquiry.

For more information, visit , a new, major source of information about the pending merger between Group 4 Falck and Securicor. The website is sponsored by the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union, the largest trade union of private security officers in the United States.

SOURCE: Service Employees International Union

CONTACT: Andrew McDonald of Service Employees International Union
+1-213-368-7419, [email protected]

Web site:


3. Austin Chronicle July 5, 2002

"A Record of Dishonesty" - Austin Chronicle (July 5, 2002)

"Wackenhut Corrections Corporation's trouble with allegations of understaffed facilities, sexual assaults against inmates, and internal violence by guards and among inmates has not been confined to the Travis County state jail. Allegations similar to those at the TCCJC have arisen in several other states." [more...]

mr anderson:
Record number in jail, Carr boasts

By Gerard Noonan
January 14, 2005

Longer sentences, tougher bail laws and higher police numbers have boosted NSW's prison population to 9000 for the first time, the Premier, Bob Carr, boasted yesterday. Mr Carr used a visit to the Mulawa women's prison to talk about the state's highest-ever prison population. A decade ago the NSW prison population was just over 6000.

"These figures should comfort law-abiding citizens that these offenders are off the streets and behind bars," Mr Carr said.

The impact of changes to the bail act two years ago, which removed the presumption in favour of bail for repeat offenders, was now being felt across the system, he said. The number of inmates classified as serious offenders - including prisoners sentenced to a minimum jail term of 12 years for crimes such as murder, rape and kidnapping - had risen by more than half in the past decade to 628.

In another development yesterday, the head of a parliamentary committee launched an inquiry into the cost-effectiveness of the state's only private prison, run by the US company GEO Group Australia.

The 750-prisoner Junee jail is cheaper to run than other NSW prisons but it does not have to cater for high-security prisoners or women. Labor MP Matt Brown, the chairman of the NSW Parliament's public accounts committee, said he wanted to inquire into whether the Junee prison really was value for money. Mr Brown said the committee would look into explanations from the Department of Corrective Services that maximum-security jails had higher costs than the medium-security Junee and that housing female prisoners involved special needs and higher costs.

As well, publicly owned jails were older and not as cost-efficient to run as Junee, which was built under the Greiner government in the early 1990s. Mr Brown said Labor policy opposed the building of private jails. The review would examine the performance of privately run prisons in other states. The NSW Auditor-General has challenged the Government to come up with better figures for the cost per day of housing prisoners so that a proper comparison can be made with the Junee financial performance.

NSW lags behind other states in the cost per day to keep prisoners. Nationally it is $159 a day, but in NSW it is $167 - about the price of a room in a well-appointed Sydney hotel. In higher-security jails like Long Bay or Goulburn, the cost per prisoner is $180 a day, compared to the national average for high-security jails of $160. GEO Group Australia is a joint venture with the American-owned GEO Inc, formerly the controversial Wackenhut Corrections Corporation.

The Justice Minister, John Hatzistergos, said the Government had invested close to $1 billion to expand facilities and build new jails.

But the acting Opposition Leader, Andrew Stoner, said the fact that NSW had a record prison population was "nothing to boast about".

Mr Stoner pointed to national figures that showed NSW had the highest rate of recidivism - with more than 45 per cent of all prisoners reoffending and back in jail within two years. According to the state audit office, the national recidivist rate is 37 per cent.


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