GEO Group, Inc. North Lake Correctional Facility's Pivotal Operating/staffing Decision

Article excerpt

Introduction

In November 2010, officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) signed an agreement with the GEO Group, Inc. that established provisions for the outsourcing of an estimated 2,580 prisoners to Geo's North Lake Correctional Facility, located in Baldwin, Michigan. In preparation for this arrangement, North Lake Correctional Facility underwent a $60 million dollar renovation and hired approximately 165 (of the estimated 500 new employees that would be needed when the facility reached its full capacity in 2014) in order to orient and train the new staff in advance of actually receiving the first wave of California prisoners scheduled to arrive in May 2011.

However, just prior to the scheduled orientation and training of the new hires, GEO heard rumors that California's growing budget deficit (estimated to be nearly $15.4 billion dollars) was causing the new Governor of California, Jerry Brown, to reconsider the state's agreement with GEO. As the Human Resource Manager for GEO's Baldwin facility, your team must decide how to proceed with staffing the new facility. Do you continue the current hiring and orientation process; should you advise the new hires of the potential threat of a layoff pending California's final decision, do you freeze posted positions; and/or should you begin the preliminary process of deciding who should be pink slipped according to the WARN act?

California Prison Background:

For decades, California Prisons had been experiencing severe overcrowding. The prison population had skyrocketed, increasing some 500% over the past 25 years and expanding the number of penitentiaries from 12 to 33 (Warren, 2006). With no relief in sight, and no additional funding set aside, CDCR officials were forced to use prison areas not originally designed for living space, including gymnasiums, hallways, T.V. rooms, etc. to house an estimated 16,500 prisoners, some of these inmates even being triple bunked (CDCR, 2006). According to reports, prison overcrowding had become so severe, that it "overwhelmed water, sewer and electrical systems at some prisons and fueled hundreds of riots, melees and smaller disturbances" (Warren, 2006).

On October 4, 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger issued an emergency proclamation that stated California's prison overcrowding had become so severe that such conditions posed a "health and safety threat" in 29 of the 33 state's prisons (CDCR, 2006). By 2006, inmate overcrowding exceeded 200% of the state's planned capacity. California's prison overcrowding situation had evolved into a crisis - the 33 state prisons, designed to hold 79,858, were housing 173,000 inmates in make shift, often hazardous, quarters (Kernan, 2007).

During Governor Schwarzenegger 2006 emergency proclamation, he responded, "Our prisons are now beyond maximum capacity, and we must act immediately and aggressively to resolve this issue ... I've ordered the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to begin contracting with facilities in other states to transfer inmates to available beds outside of California. These actions are necessary to protect the safety and well being of the officers, inmates, and the public" (CDCR, 2006).

Shortly thereafter, Scott Kernan, CDCR Undersecretary for Operations, began the process of outsourcing California prisoners to facilities in other states. By 2009, California had transferred approximately 8,000 inmates to prisons located in Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma (CDCR, 2009). CDCR was interested in signing contracts with additional prisons to further decompress California's inmate overcrowding crisis. As Kernan observed, "Reducing overcrowding in our prisons is a priority. Our ability to place offenders out of state offers us much needed flexibility, which ultimately creates a safer environment for inmates, our staff and the public" (Kostyrko, 2010).

On November 4, 2010, officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) signed a four year agreement with the GEO Group, Inc. …

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