Student protests defeat private prison bid to name college stadium

Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Ted S. Warren

Florida Atlantic University has dropped its plan to name a stadium after GEO Group, a for-profit prison corporation, after weeks of protests by students and civil rights groups. GEO had pledged $6 million to the school in exchange for the naming rights to the stadium.

Student groups, faculty members, and alumni had opposed the gift because of a long list of allegations of human rights abuses at GEO Group facilities. The Boca Raton-based company faced a Justice Department investigation into abuses at a Mississippi youth detention facility that found, “widespread and significant deficiencies at the facility,” according to a DOJ press release. Allegations of substandard medical care and other abuses by two immigrant rights activists that a GEO-run Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Broward County led 26 members of Congress to sign a letter requesting an investigation into the facility.

The negative publicity GEO received due to their failed bid to brand the FAU Owls’ home field will likely not affect the company’s business. GEO Group runs 96 facilities worldwide, and has seen its revenue triple over the past ten years, taking in $1.6 billion in 2011 alone. According to a 2012 report by ProPublica, the total number of prisoners in private facilities increased 37% between 2002 and 2009.