THE BUSINESS END OF FLORIDA’S CIVIL COMMITMENT OF SEX OFFENDERS

$20 Million Annual Contract to Hold 650 Men

Florida has a facility tucked away in the small, nondescript town of Arcadia.  Under Florida law, an inmate with a sexually violent past or a history of sexually motivated offenses will be scrutinized just before his release from jail or prison.  If deemed a threat to reoffend, he will be “Ryced Out” and sent to the Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia.  The Jimmy Ryce Act regarding civil commitment is named after a  nine year old, Samuel James Ryce, who was raped, decapitated and dismembered by Juan Carlos Chavez.  Chavez was executed in February of 2014.  The Jimmy Ryce act allows the State of Florida to hold designated sex offenders essentially for life.  This form of risk management by the state can keep a man behind the razor wire(but it is  not to be called prison) because he might offend in the future.  He is held because he might commit future sex crimes.  He can be coming out of prison on a totally non-violent, non-sex charge for which he has served his sentence.  If he has a sexually motivated offense in his past, the “Thought Police” of the combined bureaucracies of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Families and the State Attorney’s Office can send him to Arcadia for the rest of his life without his recently completed sentence having anything to do with sex.  He will be held indefinitely without any new crime being committed.  Florida subcontracts out this Guantanamo style of incarceration(no crime required, years between court dates, fear of future offenses) to the GEO corporation after previously jobbing out the facility to Liberty Healthcare for seven years.

The GEO Corporation

The GEO Corporation is based in Boca Raton, Florida and is reported to be our country’s second largest operator of privately operated prisons.  The firm was known as Wackenhut in the past.  The corporate symbol on the NYSE is GEO.  According to financial statements the company reports to be growing at around 10% annually.  In 2011, the firm reportedly had 1.5 billion in debt to service mainly for money borrowed to buy out competitors and diversification.  CEO and founder, George Zoley, according to Wall Street filings just expressed his own confidence in the profitability of private prisons by purchasing $5,337,896 worth of his own company’s stock in May of this year.  Arcadia is just one of the dozens of facilities GEO runs for governments stretching as far as South Africa and Australia.  Arcadia is actually run under the moniker, GEO CARE.

 

Added 154 “New Beds” , a 26.5% Increase In Two Years

According to information off of GEO CARE’S own website, the company got the contract in 2006 and by 2008 had increased the capacity of “beds” from 580 to 734.   A new facility was constructed in 2009.  There is talk of another facility being built.  Florida’s sex crimes laws are becoming increasingly more harsh with long, long sentences. As for the body count for the new facility, it will not be the recently sentenced sex offender being sent to Arcadia as he will be in prison years or decades into the future.  The business model here could depend on those inmates coming up for release on a sex charge being sent to Arcadia or the the designated sex offender who has reoffended hitting jail or prison with a non-sex charge being reviewed and sent to the non-prison.  The “indefinite” part of  the commitment is dependent upon how well the committed does with his treatment by GEO CARE staff.  The revenue stream each “resident” provides can go on, as the statue says “indefinitely.”  The website above also has employment opportunities listed.  The posting for clinical therapist indicates a large portion of the job is documentation.  Documentation that will most probably impact when the “indefinite”  non-prison residency of the offender ends.  There is also a job posting for “custody officer” and the prerequisite required is to be FDLE certified.  So, the resident is not incarcerated, but still has a state-certified “custody officer” (don’t say guard or corrections officer) keeping him in check.   Any facility in private enterprise that depends upon a headcount, for example,  movie theaters, sports stadiums, hospitals and nursing homes, airlines and hotels(think expedia and hotwire), to support a fixed cost infrastructure is always looking at how to improve that headcount.  One would hope there is not a private industry profit motive bias here to hold the existing 700 or so residents, build a new facility and add 700 more.

Duval County Leads the Way

According to a report by News4Jax.com, Duval County has committed roughly 10% of the offenders at Arcadia.  The commitment starts with a petition originating at the State Attorney’s office.  GEO CARE happens to employ the lobbying firm powerhouse, Ballard Partners, who, according to the Florida Trend, reported revenues of  more than  8 million dollars in 2013.  The two Jacksonville lobbyists listed on the Ballard Partners website are Susie Wiles and Tony Boselli.  Susie Wiles served as the campaign manager for Governor Scott’s winning campaign in 2010.  Tony Boselli, a former Jacksonville Jaguar, has no governmental experience but is extremely well known in Jacksonville.  Lobbyists are hired for business purposes.  They are not hired by firms looking to do less business or firms looking to lose market share.  With Florida public sentiment on sex offenders and predators running white hot since the rape and death of Jacksonville’s 8 year old Cherish Perrywinkle, for which career offender Donald Smith now facing the death penalty, citizens will have no problem if Arcadia’s headcount swells.  Smith spent three years in civil commitment.  His last release before this arrest was from county jail as opposed to prison so he didn’t undergo the scrutiny by DCF and corrections.

Sex Crimes

Sex crimes are investigated by seasoned detectives and prosecuted by veteran, career prosecutors.  The punishment doled out is brutal.  If you, a friend or family member thinks there may be accusations of a sex crime brewing, get in to see an experienced sex Jacksonville, Clay County or Nassau County attorney.  The Forbess Law Firm is available 24/7 at 904-634-0900 for a free, no obligation consultation. Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer Ray Forbess, Sr., has defended hundreds of sex cases in  the North Florida area.

 

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