Universities shouldn't be named after prisons
Florida Atlantic University just signed a deal with a private prison company, GEO Group — the largest for-profit prison company in the United States — for the naming rights of their stadium.
GEO Group makes money by incarcerating people, money that should be used to support education. No institution of higher learning should endorse such an organization, much less the largest prison corporation in the country.
FOR and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America are supporting this call, being led by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
GEO Group makes money by locking people up, profiting from their pain — about 73,000 people in all, more than the prison populations of all but six states, and nearly three times the number of people who attend Florida Atlantic.
GEO Group’s income doesn’t come from thin air — it comes from state budgets, shortchanging priorities like education and services. It’s unconscionable for a public university to align itself with an organization that is committed to stripping resources from the same communities the university is supposed to serve.
Plus, GEO Group has a long history of abuse in their facilities. Just last year, a Justice Department investigation described one of GEO Group’s youth facilities in Mississippi as a “cesspool.” Far from doing their job of educating and rehabilitating, staff at the facility were molesting and beating the youth in their care. Conditions within the facilities were so horrific that the state of Mississippi canceled GEO Group’s contract for the facility — and all their other contracts.
Some people detained in GEO Group facilities have yet to be convicted of any crime, including thousands of aspiring citizens across the United States. Just a few miles from Florida Atlantic University, GEO Group runs the Broward Transitional Facility, which incarcerates immigrants in such abusive conditions that several detainees have recently attempted suicide.
Students at Florida Atlantic aren’t interested in being associated with this for-profit prison corporation: This past week students demanded a meeting with the university president, who subsequently said, “I don’t know everything about this company.”
As if all this wasn’t enough, GEO Group recently announced that they are primarily a real estate company, which allows them to cheat the system by paying very little to nearly no taxes at all.
That a company that publicly claims to rehabilitate those they incarcerate would say those same people — largely people of color — are just “property” is racist and disgusting.