Pinellas County Sheriff named in report showing how private security firms harm the incarcerated

'In Pinellas County, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has contracted with G4S to transport incarcerated people, even as they made fatal mistakes.'

click to enlarge Pinellas County Sheriff named in report showing how private security firms harm the incarcerated
Screengrab via Pinellas County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
A new report highlights how campaign money donated from a private security firm to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has harmed incarcerated people.

The recently published "Paid Jailer" report examines Gualtieri's connection to private security company G4S Security Solutions, a firm that provides private security services to law enforcement agencies.

"In Pinellas County, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has contracted with G4S to transport incarcerated people, even as they made fatal mistakes," the report reads.

The report says that in 2013, G4S employee Andrey Israilov—who had a checkered past as a sheriff’s deputy in neighboring Pasco County before retiring—failed to intervene as a person in his custody was killed.

USA Today found that Israilov had known detainee Thomas Morrow was being beat to death by another detainee while handcuffed in the back of his detention van, but did not stop to help him.

The report also highlights an incident in 2018, in which a G4S driver waited five minutes while failing to check on detainee Luis Nieves in his vehicle even after noticing  that he was failing to move. Nieves died of positional asphyxiation, blocked breathing.

In 2020, Gualtieri's election campaign received $1,000 directly from Wackenhut PAC. Wackenhut is the founding company of G4S. Another $5,000 was donated from Wackenhut PAC to a supporting committee for Gualtieri's election, the report says.

Gualtieri defended G4S in the 2018 case, and the report says that as far as the investigators can tell, he has continued to renew the contract with the company. Creative Loafing Tampa Bay contacted PCSO's public information officer for an answer as to whether or not they still contract with G4S but has not yet received a response. This post will be updated if one comes in.

The report, released Jan. 11 in collaboration by Communities for Sheriff Accountability and Common Cause, a nonprofit that advocates for transparency in government institutions, points out that G4S also donates to other sheriffs in Florida. In 2019 and 2020, they donated nearly $1,000 to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Wackenhut, the company that created G4S was founded in 1954. Since then, the company has become one of the largest private prison and law enforcement contractors in the nation.

In 2004, Wackenhut changed its name to Geo Group, which operates several Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) detention centers across the country, as well as prisons. Geo Group has been mired in  controversy for corrupt practices and several lawsuits, one citing "inhumane treatment" of detained migrants.
 

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia previously wrote for the USA Today Network, The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Scalawag Magazine, and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 


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