By STEVE McGONIGLE and HOLLY BECKA / The Dallas Morning News
State Rep. Jerry Madden held his annual "How Sweet It Is" dessert party in Plano on Thursday night to raise money for a future campaign. One of the sponsors at the $2,500 "cherries jubilee" level was to be The GEO Group Inc., a Florida-based corrections company.
Until last week, GEO operated the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center near Bronte under contract with the Texas Youth Commission. In recent years, the company has donated to the campaigns of some legislators who oversee the youth agency.
Two of them, Mr. Madden and Sen. John Whitmire, are co-chairmen of the special legislative committee established this year to oversee reforms of TYC in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal at the West Texas State School in Pyote.
Mr. Madden, R-Plano, received a total of $2,500 from GEO's political action committee in 2005 and 2006, according to campaign finance records.
Mr. Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, received $2,000 from the political action committee of Wackenhut Corrections Corp., as GEO was previously known, in 2003 and 2004.
Other recipients of GEO or Wackenhut contributions are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who received $2,500 in 2006 and $2,500 in 2004, and House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, who received $1,000 in 2005, state records show.
In addition to Mr. Madden, the chairman of the House Corrections Committee, two other panel members received donations from GEO or Wackenhut. Rep. Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock, received $250 in 2006. And Pat Haggerty, R-El Paso, received $500 from the Wackenhut Corrections PAC in 2004.
Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and another member of the Joint Committee on the Operation and Management of the Texas Youth Commission, received $250 in 2006.
Mr. Madden's predecessor as head of the corrections committee, Ray Allen, received $3,500 in 2003 and 2004 from Wackenhut. He since has left public office and is a lobbyist for GEO.
The GEO Group, don't forget, is the same infamous Wackenhut Corporation reborn under K-Street "lobby rules" [READ: legalized bribery] for playing fast and loose with government money as a sometimes CIA front company in Latin America where they facilitated the transportation of cocaine to the Bloods and Crips of Los Angeles and provided security at the biological weapons research labs we said we didn't have -- all part of a scam on the U.S. Congress that came to be known as the Iran-Contra Affair.
Lawyers, Guns & Money
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ROBERT E. PIERRE, WASHINGTON POST - [Rivers Correctional Institution] was built specifically to house inmates from the District. . . Busloads of wives, mothers and children trek here on a four-hour drive passing fields laden with watermelons, pumpkins and rows of cotton.
prison, run by the private GEO Group, has become a symbol for what inmates, their families and city leaders say is harsher treatment of D.C. inmates in federal prisons compared with other inmates. Drug treatment and job training options are inadequate, critics say. As a result, too many inmates return home unprepared to do anything but get sent back. North Carolina
The 200 miles separating the District and Winton creates its own set of problems. Families can have difficulty getting information about relatives' health -- or even their whereabouts -- in a system that imprisons 193,000 nationwide. And the distance drains family resources and isolates inmates from city services that could aid rehabilitation.
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON IS holding a hearing on DC's outsourced prisons, but it's a bit late since she, like other DC officials, failed to raise a mighty roar when the takeover occurred. The takeover was part of the federal government's inexcusable seizure of DC in the mid-1990s for which we are still paying the price.