The event last week, during which executives and wardens gathered for four days of meetings, dinner receptions and golf outings at the luxurious 800-acre Trump National Doral, followed an intense effort by GEO Group to align itself with the president and his administration.
GEO Group has found immense success in the Trump era.
The company secured the administration’s first contract for an immigration detention center, a deal worth tens of millions a year. And its stock price has tripled since hitting a low last year when the Obama administration sought to phase out the use of private prisons — a decision that Sessions reversed.
Private Prisons require government contracts to keep functioning. They have every incentive to curry favor with government officials.
GEO Group, which owns or manages about 140 prisons, immigration-detention centers and other facilities nationwide and derives nearly half of its revenue from federal contracts, entered the Trump era with a great deal at stake. In the past 10 years, the federal government has paid GEO Group and its subsidiaries more than $4 billion, according to federal contracting records.
The GEO Group panicked after the Obama Administration chose to phase out the use of private prisons.
The company suffered a setback when, in the summer of 2016, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates ordered the Justice Department to phase out its use of private prisons. Yates’s move came after a Justice Department inspector general’s report called the facilities less secure than those run by the government.
Trump Is publicly pro-private prison.
Early in the presidential race, Trump made clear that he supported the use of private prisons. “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better,” he said during a televised town hall gathering in March 2016.