In Texas, where both incarceration and immigrant detention rates soar, we’re accustomed to scrutinizing the state’s privatization efforts of these facilities. However, there’s a new trend afoot in our state; privatizing state mental health facilities under the guise of cost savings to taxpayers, and Texas is turning over control of these facilities to companies that run for-profit prisons to provide care and safety to our state’s mentally ill population.
The state is currently considering a bid to turn over control of the Kerrville State Hospital, a state-run psychiatric facility, to GEO Care. GEO Care is a part of GEO Group, the private prison corporation that has been at the helm of numerous privately operated Texas prison and youth detention facilities that have been the site of lawsuits, mismanagement, and canceled contracts. Perhaps the most egregious example of the company’s failings took place at Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, which was closed in 2007 following reports of horrific conditions under GEO Group’s management.
But our concern extends beyond GEO’s troubled history in Texas. Our research found that the former Chief Operating Officer at Kerrville State Hospital, Stephen Anfinson, is currently employed by GEO Care as the Facility Administrator and CEO at Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility which is currently being fined by the state for serious shortcomings in patient care, including unauthorized restraint and seclusion of patients, incomplete medical records, failure to show patient consent for medications and failure to report serious injuries to the state.
Grassroots Leadership joined twelve other mental health advocacy, civil liberty, and criminal justice reform groups to send a letter to state leadership calling on them to reject GEO Care’s bid. Sign the petition to add your voice!