February 21, 2013
NIYA Demands that Florida Atlantic Reject “OwlCatraz” Deal with Geo Group
Naming rights at stadium insults Florida immigrant families
BOCA RATON, Fla.—The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is appalled that Florida Atlantic University (FAU) would sell naming rights to its football stadium to GEO Group, Inc. amid the controversy it has generated over the treatment of its detainees in Broward Transitional Center. We are asking for the university to reconsider its decision and have launched a petition, found here: http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/geostadium/
FAU has allowed the private prison corporation naming rights to its football stadium, leading FAU students to sardonically call the stadium “Owlcatraz.” GEO Group has generated a major controversy in Florida after its poor management of Broward Transitional Center (BTC) came under public scrutiny.
GEO Group has an extensive record of negligence and abuse inside its facilities. GEO Group formerly operated the infamous Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (WGYCF) in Mississippi, where a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into abuses concluded that ”due to the unconstitutional operation of WGYCF, youth were sexually preyed upon by staff and all too frequently suffered grievous harm, including death.”
Recently, 26 members of Congress sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement requesting a full review of BTC after hearing about negligence and mistreatment inside the GEO facility. Viridiana Martinez had this to say about her experience inside BTC: “They treated us like animals—we found that most detainees were jailed for minor offenses, such as driving without a valid driver’s license. The worst part about it wasn’t really even the treatment they received from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); but rather how the GEO staff and the GEO guards treat all detainees.” Viridiana was an undocumented activist who had herself purposefully detained to join the immigrants inside BTC organizing against the horrendous mistreatment there.
NIYA hopes that FAU reconsiders its decision to enter into business with GEO Group, Inc. and sets better standards for who it considers a good community partner. We will begin organizing against the FAU-Geo partnership in the coming days.