Hitting Private Prisons Where it Hurts: Prison Divestment

divest

Divesting from the Prison Industrial Complex

The National Prison Divestment Campaign has been in the news the last few weeks, after the University of California became the second US college to sell their shares in private prison companies.

Founded by Enlace* in May 2011, the National Prison Divestment Campaign consists of a coalition of over 150 grassroots organizations, worker centers, unions, and other nonprofits. Over the past four years, this coalition has won numerous victories, such as the recent divestments of SCOPIA, Amica Mutual Insurance, and DSM Netherlands, and the implementation of a investment policy for the City of Portland, OR, that will prevent the city from ever investing in private prisons.

The National Prison Divestment Campaign focuses primarily on two companies: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo Group (GEO). These companies have a history of buying politicians and using lobbying for policies that criminalize immigrants and people of color. One example of this policy is the latest federal budget, which proposes a record allocation of $2.9 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to imprison 34,000 people on any given day. Meanwhile, legislatures at every level of government are cutting budgets for essential services like public education and healthcare.

In June, Columbia University became the first US college to divest from private prisons. This entailed dumping 220,00 shares in G4S, the world’s largest private security firm, as well as its shares in CCA. On December 29, the University of California joined them, selling $30 million $30 million of CCA and GEO stock.

African American lawyer and activist Michelle Alexander describes the infamous school-to-prison pipeline endured by minority families in The New Jim Crow. The US has the highest prison population in the world. The vast majority are African Americans and Hispanics, locked away for victimless crimes such as drug possession. As Alexander ably documents police disproportionately enforce these crimes in minority communities, where effective legal representation is virtually non-existent.


*Enlace is a strategic alliance of low-wage worker centers, unions, and community organizations in Mexico and in the U.S.

13 thoughts on “Hitting Private Prisons Where it Hurts: Prison Divestment

    • It’s an important step forward at least. My dream would be to see prisons abolished. They only needed to build prisons after they stole the commons from us. This 300 year old Quaker experiment (the Quakers named them penitentiaries because they thought the solitude would help people repent) are an abysmal failure and are systematically destroying minority communities.

      I would be very happy to see prisons replaced with the Maori system of restorative justice. New Zealand’s youth criminal justice system is based on restorative justice, but we’re (the Green Party) are having a hard time getting it adopted for adults.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just compare the way the Netherlands do it Vs the USA. The US is a barbaric, medieval nation that needs to grow and learn compassion. Their eye for an eye attitude is turning their country into a dungeon of hopelessness.

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  1. Definitely something we need to stop good on these people !!!

    We have G4S running some of our prisons in the UK. Story of abuse to the inmares and selling of drugs by the guards, nothing get done it’s just brushed under the carpet.

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  2. Imagine! Buying shares in a prison as an investment! Privatising prisons must be just about the ultimate absurdity of capitalism – but I hadn’t considered the obvious implication that people would see buying shares in them as a profitable investment. The world is so crazy these days, it is beyond the reach of satire!

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  3. Alooha, thank you Stuart for sharing…we definitely have to send this article to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and our legislators to follow suit…why? BECAUSE, most of my relatives from hawaii were arrested without a fair trial (see: “annavonreitz.com” for all the facts) and many in there because of minor or other infractions; driving without licenses, abuses of a family member, posession of marijuana and false arrests (Maunakea Protectors)…WE are the victims, the families who suffered by the hands of the fake state of Hawaii…(see: “hawaiiankingdom.com” for all the facts and documented evidences, that Hawaii continues while illegally occupied)…again, thank you for the facts and pray more colleges drop out and the prison industrial complex is dismantled immediately to stop the unfair incarceration of innocent people and imprison those who need to be arrested outlined and shared world wide on the internet through “annavonreitz.com” website which explains who are the real crooks and use tax payers money to arrest them…mahalo.

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    • Kia ora, Rita. Very sad to hear of the systematic oppression of Hawaii’s indigenous people. It seems to be the same story everywhere. From what I hear, there is great hope for the Hawaii sovereignty movement.

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