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PLN sues Geo Group over denied public records requests

Palm Beach Post, Jan. 1, 2005.
PLN sues Geo Group over denied public records requests - Palm Beach Post 2005

Publication sues over prison firm's records

By Stephen Pounds

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, December 26, 2005

Prison Legal News wants a peek at Geo Group's public records.

The Seattle-based publication filed suit this month, demanding access to documents pertaining to sexual harassment allegations, prisoner attacks and disturbances, court verdicts and settlements and contract sanctions, according to the complaint, filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

Geo Group, based in Boca Raton, is a private company that builds and manages prisons, including two in Florida. Because of Geo's contracts with the state, Prison Legal News argues that the company has assumed the state Department of Corrections "governmental obligations" and falls under Florida's government-in-the-sunshine law.

"Without the ... public records, the (publication) cannot determine whether or not the taxpayers and the prisoners at Geo facilities are receiving a fair return and the services required," the suit said.

Geo spokesman Pablo Paez said the company hasn't taken a position on whether it falls under the state's public records law, and it may not have to. But it has contacted the prison legal publication on its request.

"We'll be working with the plaintiffs to resolve any outstanding request to the extent possible," Paez said.