Private prison employee morale hits major low as ICE controversy continues

3 months ago by Connor Ibbetson in Facts, Features, News

Since late May, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been embroiled in controversy over the separation of migrant families. ICE has since been the target of protests across America, a country that has also received condemnation from the United Nations for separating families at the border.

Two months ago, we looked at two major private prison companies — GEO GROUP ($NYSE:GEO) and The Corrections Corporation of America, which changed its name to CoreCivic ($NYSE:CXW) —that both run immigration detention centers. Now at the center of a nationwide controversy due to their contracts with ICE, how much has their image changed among employees of said companies? And has there been any shift in hires to meet the demands of these centers?

GEO GROUP

GEO GROUP is a private prison company that runs privatized corrections, detention, and mental-health facilities in the US and across the world.

Following the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, the company saw a large increase in its stock value, as traders predicted that the 45th President would give out more government contracts to private prisons.

Looking at job-listing data, we can see that hiring at GEO GROUP has remained roughly steady over the past year.

Title Number of Listings
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER 17
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER-12 HR 14
CASE MANAGER 13
Case Manager, Immigration (Spanish Bilingual) 12
MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN 10
LPN 10
MONITOR I 9
CLIENT SERVICES SPECIALIST I 9
SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELOR 9
COOK 8
RN 8
COOK SUPERVISOR 6
Security Monitor 6
LIEUTENANT 5
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST 5
SERGEANT 4
Immigration Case Manager, Sr. (Spanish Bilingual) 4
RN-12 HR 4
P/T CORRECTIONAL OFFICER 4
CAPTAIN 4
CASE MANAGER I 4
INSTRUCTOR, VOCATIONAL 4
FOOD SERVICE OFFICER 4
Part Time CLIENT SERVICES SPEC I 4
SUPV, SHIFT 4

Unsurprisingly, GEO GROUP's job listings are centered around its prison facilities, with the biggest need being more corrections officers and case managers. However, an interesting point is its number of listings specifically for Spanish-speaking immigration case managers — potentially to meet the demand of its immigration detention centers.

City Number of Listings
South Mountain 17
Lawrenceville 17
Clayton 17
Winton 15
Hobbs 15
Woodridge 15
McFarland 14
Marienville 13
South Bay 12
Eagle Pass 11

In terms of location, most of the open positions are in South Mountain, Pennsylvania, where GEO GROUP has a youth detention center. This center, known as Abraxas Youth Center, holds delinquent males and females, ages 10-18, and has, among other jobs, teachers that give specialized instruction for children and teens held in the center.

Lawrenceville, VA, is the site of one of GEO Groups Detention and Correctional Centers, and is second on the list for open positions. 

GEO Group seems to be hiring well, but its employees - both past and current - are not hopeful about the private prison company's future.

According to Glassdoor data, employee outlook on the future of the business is at an all time low; just 24% of GEO GROUP employees reported themselves as having a positive outlook on the future of the company.

The Corrections Corporation of America (CoreCivic).  

CoreCivic (CXW:NYSE) rebranded itself from The Corrections Corporation of America in the middle of this significant controversy over the private prison system in the U.S. In 2016 under its old name, CoreCivic was the second largest private prison company in America behind GEO Group.

Unlike its competitor, CoreCivic's open positions have slumped since June 2018. 

Looking at the open positions, CoreCivic is seeking a high number of new correctional officers and nurses, as well as a high number of Mental Health Coordinators.

Title Number of Listings 
Correctional Officer 45
Licensed Practical Nurse (PRN) 32
Licensed Practical Nurse 24
Registered Nurse (Non-exempt) 22
Registered Nurse (PRN) 21
Academic Instructor 15
Maintenance Worker 15
Mental Health Coordinator 12
Monitor I, Community Corrections 11
Registered Nurse (Non-Exempt) 8
Treatment Counselor 8
Clinical Supervisor - RN 8
Mailroom Clerk 5
Sr Correctional Officer 5
Detention Officer 5
Sr Monitor, Community Corrections 5
Asst Warden 4
Cert Medication Assistant 4
Academic Instructor (PRN) 4
Academic Instructor, PRN 4
Registered Nurse 4
Case Manager 4
Chief of Unit Management 4
Licensed Practical Nurse, PT 4
Psychologist 4

Along with its declining hiring numbers, employee outlook data from Glassdoor does not paint a promising picture for the company either. Likely driven by controversy, CoreCivic employees with positive outlooks on the company's future is low at 35%, but to the private prison's credit, its outlook is higher than GEO GROUP. 

As the United States heads into the midterm elections, there is plenty of uncertainty about the future of these two private prisons, especially if the Democratic party takes control of the Senate and the House. Whether it is the looming elections cycle or the continued controversy, it seems that neither GEO GROUP nor CoreCivic former and current workers are seeing much positivity in their respective employer's future.

Connor Ibbetson

An avid data fan, Connor is a London based journalist finishing his masters in Interactive Journalism. If he's not making graphs or cleaning data, you'll probably...

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