The Geo Group Inc is an American multi-national, which has run prisons and immigration detention centres in the US, Britain, Australia and South Africa.
This company profile contains Corporate Watch’s in-depth coverage of the Brian Dalrymple and Alois Dvorzak inquests. Both men died shortly after leaving Geo’s Harmondsworth immigration detention centre in the UK.
You can find recent Corporate Watch work on Geo in the right hand column of this page, or by clicking here.
Click here for Geo’s head office address and other basic details from the opencorporates website.
Click here for details of Geo’s latest profits and other financial results from the Bloomberg website.
There is some useful information on Geo’s UK and US websites:
To find out which sectors Geo is currently working in, click here for US and here for UK operations
Click here to find out who Geo’s directors and board members are, and for the UK management team click here
Click here to download Geo’s latest annual report and accounts.
For a more critical perspective on their work in the US, try the SourceWatch website.
History of the Geo Group
According to journalist Clare Sambrook: “The GEO Group was spawned by The Wackenhut Corporation, founded by George R Wackenhut. A former FBI agent, Wackenhut started a three-man detective agency in Miami in 1954, providing security services to stay afloat, according to his 2005 obituary in the New York Times. To impress commercial clients, Wackenhut dressed his guards in helmets and paratrooper boots. He recruited former members of the CIA, the FBI and elite military forces to join his management team and the company’s board, the New York Times reported.
The Wackenhut Corporation gathered intelligence on individuals, ‘both to run background checks for their clients and as an outgrowth of George Wackenhut’s anti-communist views’, according to the New York University Digital Archive that holds some of those papers. By 1971 Wackenhut held files on 2.5 million individuals.
The company recruited ex-FBI chief Clarence M. Kelley, ex-Secret Service James J. Rowley, Frank C. Carlucci, former defense secretary and former CIA deputy director, according to the New York Times. William J. Casey was Wackenhut’s outside legal counsel before Ronald Reagan appointed him director of central intelligence. Such connections ‘fuelled speculation that the company was working with the CIA, a relationship that Mr. Wackenhut denied’.
In 2002, on George Wackenhut’s retirement, Group 4 Falck bought The Wackenhut Corporation, including a majority stake in its prisons business (the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation). The following year, the prisons business, headed by George Zoley, bought its shares back from Group 4 Falck, and relaunched itself as the GEO Group.”
The Geo Group UK Ltd subsidiary was set up by Walter MacGowan and Colin Dobell in 2004. Geo won UK Home Office contracts to run Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) from May 2006 to May 2011, Harmondsworth IRC from June 2009 to September 2014, and Dungavel IRC from 2011 to 2016.
Sambrook wrote that, “The Wackenhut Corporation remained in Group 4 Falck’s hands as Group 4 merged with Securicor, creating G4S. In 2010 G4S dropped the Wackenhut name…. And The Wackenhut Corporation was born again — as G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc.”
Corporate Watch has attended several inquests into deaths of detainees in Geo’s custody in the UK.
In July 2011, Brian Dalrymple (pictured above), a 35 year old American tourist, died from a ruptured aorta days after leaving Harmondsworth detention centre. The jury found that, “throughout Mr Dalrymple’s detention at Harmondsworth medical record keeping was shambolic” and said neglect contributed to his death. Geo made a “significant” settlement to the Dalrymple family. To read more, see our coverage of days one, four, nine and ten of the inquest.
In February 2013, Alois Dvorzak, an 84 year old Canadian man, died shackled to a Geo security guard by a six foot chain. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said that Dvorzak’s death was “a tragic indictment of the system”, which “is likely to have reached the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment.” The Ombudsman said that the privatised character of the immigration detention system might have led to the excessive use of handcuffs. Our full coverage of the nine day inquest is available as part of this company profile.