Tracy remains a tenured FAU professor, and reached last week, he said he stands by his blog comments. But Tracy said the media frenzy that surrounded his statements often failed to include a key point he was trying to make: police investigation documents such as autopsy reports, witness lists, and photo and video evidence were not being shared with the public.
We just dont know as much as we should know about something that should be fairly cut and dry, Tracy said.
Following the Sandy Hook mess, FAU managed to spark anger during what is typically a non-controversial, uplifting event: the announcement of a multi-million dollar private donation.
But the generous $6 million donor in this case, Boca Ratons GEO Group, happens to be the nations second-largest for-profit prison operator, and is the subject of numerous lawsuits and human-rights complaints. Among them:
• A Mississippi federal judge last year blasted a GEO-run youth prison facility for an abusive, unsafe environment that paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world. GEO says it inherited the problems there from a previous operator, but the judge found the company did little to correct them.
• Inmates at a GEO-run immigration detention center in Pompano Beach complained of being denied proper medical care, and being kept behind bars for lengthy periods of time despite the Obama Administrations prosecutorial discretion initiative that is supposed to halt deportations of immigrants with strong community ties and no criminal records. At least one family with a current FAU student was previously detained there.
• In 2007, Texas canceled its $8 million GEO contract (and closed the affected youth prison) after inspectors discovered feces on floors and walls, along with excessive use of pepper spray on young inmates.
Despite considerable public criticism, FAU still plans to accept the $6 million gift and name its football stadium GEO Group Stadium. But the facility has already garnered a more-catchy nickname that combines prison lore with FAUs feathered mascot: Owlcatraz.
In a written statement, GEO Group Vice President Pablo Paez said the company has been a strong FAU supporter for more than a decade, and is led by some proud FAU alums. Paez himself was once student body president, and company chairman and founder George Zoley is a two-time FAU grad who previously chaired the university board of trustees.
Undoubtedly, every correctional organization in the world faces operational challenges and allegations that are inherent in the management of offender populations, and GEO is no exception, Paez wrote. However, our company has always been committed to protecting human rights and adhering to industry-leading standards.
The naming controversy has prompted angry student demonstrations, a mocking mention on Comedy Centrals The Colbert Report, and strangest of all an alleged hit-and-run car accident involving President Saunders and a student protester.
On the morning of March 22, about 20 sign-carrying student protesters confronted Saunders as she headed to her car to leave the universitys Jupiter campus. When Saunders hurriedly drove away in her 2010 silver Lexus, one student 22-year-old Britni Hiatt says she was struck by the right side mirror of the vehicle, and sustained an orange-sized bruise. Campus police say Hiatt was ignoring police orders to get out of the cars path (Hiatt disputes this) and Saunders said she is confident shell be cleared once the investigation is finished.