Home Local News COLUMN: GEO, 20 years of commitment to operational excellence in NM

COLUMN: GEO, 20 years of commitment to operational excellence in NM

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It has recently been reported that GEO chose to end its contract managing the State’s correctional facility located in Clayton, New Mexico. As we approach the transition date to State management, I want to provide Lea County residents with some history regarding GEO’s longterm commitment to the State’s public safety and economy. GEO and the State of New Mexico have been partners for 20 years in providing safe and secure residential services and building the strongest foundations for reentry into the community upon release to reduce recidivism.

Our company, and dedicated employees, operate the Lea County Correctional Facility, the Women’s Recovery Academy in Albuquerque, the Men’s Recovery Academy in Los Lunas, and the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa. All four of these facilities are unaffected by our strategic decision to end our management of the Clayton facility. Unlike the Clayton facility, which is owned by the Town of Clayton, GEO owns the Lea County Correctional Facility and continues to invest in its future.

GEO is committed to Hobbs and Lea County and is proud to employ hundreds of local residents. While most of New Mexico’s aging correctional facilities were built prior to the 1980’s, GEO’s state of the art correctional facilities were constructed in the mid-90’s with a focus on the safety of staff and inmates, and providing an environment where inmates can succeed in educational and vocational programs to reduce recidivism.

Just over a decade ago, GEO was proud to partner with the State of New Mexico and the Town of Clayton to build a state-of-the-art correctional facility in northeastern New Mexico to serve as an economic development initiative and meet the growing needs of the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD). However, partnerships are a two-way street, and unfortunately for the last ten years under previous administrations in Santa Fe, the State has not met its contractual obligations of providing Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjusted increases for the wages of correctional officers and increased healthcare costs of running the facility in Clayton. Despite this, GEO spent millions of additional dollars to pay for what the State has failed to provide to hardworking New Mexicans.

With this transition to State management, GEO can now refocus its efforts in New Mexico on continuing the safety and success of the Lea County Correctional Facility. As part of those efforts, we at GEO are proud to be leaders in combating recidivism and helping offenders enter, or re-enter, the workforce after release. GEO’s award-winning Continuum of Care program operating at the facility is a long-term investment paid for by GEO which delivers enhanced in-custody offender rehabilitation programming, including cognitive behavioral treatment, integrated with transition case management and unparalleled post–release support services.

In 2018 alone, GEO’s focus on offender rehabilitation across the country assisted individuals in achieving 2,779 High School Equivalency Diplomas, 9,131 Vocational Certificates, 8,842 Substance Abuse Certificates, 44,518 Programming Completions, and 32,419 Behavioral Program Completions. GEO’s Continuum of Care programs in Lea County will continue delivering results for those New Mexicans entrusted to our care.

We are proud of our 20 years serving the needs of the New Mexico state government, and we look forward to building on our partnership in innovative ways like our Continuum of Care. We are proud supporters of the local communities where we operate and will continue to be invested in the success of Hobbs and Lea County.

George C. Zoley is the founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of The GEO Group, a diversified government services provider. To learn more about the GEO Continuum of Care and how it is making a difference, visit www.WeAreGEO.com.

Burkett Shaw
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