GEO Group tries to quiet stadium name uproar by erasing Wikipedia records

The controversy over Florida Atlantic University selling its football stadium naming rights to a for-profit prison company being sued for human rights violations just gets better and better: Now it appears that the GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut) has had one of its corporate relations executives edit the company’s Wikipedia page to eliminate all mentions of mistreatment of prisoners at its facilities:

A section on the Wikipedia page entitled “controversies,” which listed state and federal investigations and lawsuits claiming mistreatment of prisoners in GEO facilities, had disappeared. In its place was a new section, headlined “Quality of Operations,” which duplicated language in company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This being Wikipedia, the offending “Controversies” section was soon restored. And what exactly did GEO Group want hidden from the public? Some samples:

  • “Between 2005 and 2009, at least eight people had died at the Geo Group-operated George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, the state’s only privately run jail. Several of those deaths resulted in lawsuits by family members who say the facility did not provide adequate medical care or proper supervision for offenders. On December 31, 2008, Geo pulled out of operations at this facility, ‘citing underperformance and frequent litigations’ as the reasons.”
  • “In November 2010 plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit against the agencies that operate and own the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, saying that the prison authorities allowed abuses and negligence to occur at the facility. The lawsuit states that prison guards engaged in sexual intercourse with the prisoners and smuggled illegal drugs into the facilities, and that prison authorities denied education and medical care. As of that month the prison has about 1,200 prisoners ages 13–22; the lawsuit says that half of the prisoners are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.”

Also, from the Huffington Post article reporting on the Wikipedia mess, we learn that

The company has been at the center of several controversies across the U.S., including at a youth detention center in Texas, which was shut down after state inspectors said they found “filthy” and “unsafe” conditions that included feces on walls. Several riots erupted at a GEO-operated federal prison in west Texas that housed mostly undocumented immigrants in 2008 and 2009, following the death of an epileptic inmate who had been left in isolation despite pleas for help.

All charges that weren’t getting much attention until GEO pulled its one-two punch of trying to buy a higher profile via stadium naming rights, and trying to expunge its record on the web. It’s always possible that five years from now, everyone will have forgotten this and just think of GEO as “that company that has its name on the stadium of some minor Florida college’s football stadium,” but right now the whole deal is testing the proposition that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

6 comments on “GEO Group tries to quiet stadium name uproar by erasing Wikipedia records

  1. I think a Deadspin commenter (Raysism) said it best (in a more vulgar way): You’ve now got three abusers of free labour involved in this story.

  2. Too late, corporate image nerds. The stadium’s already been nicknamed “Owlcatraz”. Might as well own it.

  3. What kind of crazy nation has for-profit prison corporations, or even non-profit prison corporations. Think about it for a second. Prison corporations? That a college/university would even countennance doing business with a prison corporation is incredible. I like sports, and played organized sports, and still play pick up basketball at the courts in Seattle with the good players; but I am starting to despise money-making sports of any type.

    Here in Seattle, the University of Washington Huskie Stadium is being rebuilt. Part of the new policy for the new rebuild is that the Student seating is being removed from decent sections of the stadium in order to sell the seating for high prices to non-students. The UW’s spokesman says that there is supply and demand, and that if students wish decent seats then they need to pay high prices. The Huskies are the Students team, and the Students are treated as garbage. All over money. We need to get real, the Huskies only use the UW for subsidy, and credibility; as no one would go to see a stand alone minor league Huskie team. Sports have turned into a detrimental scam.

  4. Woody Hayes long ago said it’s kind of hard to rally around a math class, but I find there’s something inherently bogus about treating college football games as a quasi holy war.
    I see longer and longer schedules and coaches, like the one at Alabama, making several million a year and I wonder why educational instituitions want to be associated with this (I read once that if you see a black male on the Cal campus it’s more likely he’s associated the athletic program than one of their engineering schools).
    When my son is ready for college I’m going to encourge him to attend a school w/o a major program.

  5. Who cares?
    If they’re not printing their $$$ in a basement it’s not important.
    Don’t like the name? Don’t go there.