The decision was unanimous. At the monthly meeting on December 12th, the unelected Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors voted 5-0 to approve a new five-year, $264 million contract with a subsidiary of GEO Group, Inc. to run the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. According to the Delaware County Daily Times, the new deal replaces the contract that was set to expire on January 1, 2019. During the meeting, DelcoCPR volunteers and members of the community silently held signs saying “People Not Profits” and “GEO Must Go.”
The new contract comes on the heels of an RFP issued by the board earlier this year. Three companies ultimately submitted proposals, with the contract going to GEO Corrections and Detention LLC. GEO sweetened the contract with several additional economic benefits, such as a no-interest loan to the county for capital improvements to the facility, as well as additional inmate programs for Vivitrol and cognitive behavior treatment. As board chairman John Hosier said, “Basically, we’re getting everything we asked for.”
Community members asked the Prison Board to limit the initial contract renewal to just 180 days, or at least until the results of the Phoenix report are released. The good news is that the contract includes a clause allowing the Prison Board to at any point give GEO Group six-months notice that they will end the contract.
An economically good deal isn’t everything if prisoners are mistreated, traumatized and abused, and if guards are overworked and underpaid. Correctional officers at the facility are only paid $12 to $14 per hour, making them the lowest-paid in Pennsylvania. We routinely hear stories of understaffing leading to inmates spending significant amount of time in their cells and being unable to take advantage of rehabilitation programs. This is in addition to the serious concerns over the high rate of suicide at the facility. We will continue to fight until the prison is restored to public management, public oversight, and full transparency.
View our live feed of the Prison Board meeting on December 12th: