In August 2010, six months after Mike was injured, GEO purchased the company, Cornell Companies Inc., that had been operating the prison since 2003. GEO, which was born as Wackenhut Corrections Corp. in 1984, is the second-largest prison company in America, with 66,000 beds at 65 prison facilities across the U.S. and another seven overseas. With a total of 4,000 beds in three prisons, including Walnut Grove, the company houses about a quarter of Mississippi’s prison population.
Built with $41 million in taxpayer subsidies, Walnut Grove has generated about $100 million in revenue for the companies operating it since the doors opened in 2001.
With the acquisition of Walnut Grove and its other prison projects, GEO is riding a wave of privatization efforts.