Tuesday March 16 2004 - 12:00am WST
For Immediate Release
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: http://www.wcc-corrections.com/wcc-corrections/
LINKED TO ASSAULTS, WEAPONS SHIPMENTS
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.
ATTEMPTING TO HIDE ITS PAST?
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."
LINKING TO KAIROS MINISTRIES
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."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
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
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 www.FocusonGroup4Falck.com , 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
Web site: http://www.FocusonGroup4Falck.com
2. WEBSITE: AN OCTOPUS NAMED WACKENHUT:
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...]