Three Companies Divest from Private Prison Firms

Here’s a bit of good news. Three major investment funds have announced that they are divesting their holdings — about $60 million — from the two largest private prison companies in the country, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America.

Scopia Capital, DSM, and Amica Mutual Insurance have all pledged to remove their collective investments of about $60,000,000 from the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group — the two prison companies that own 75 percent of the nation’s private prisons. The decision to divest comes on the heels of pressure from Color Of Change, a racial and economic justice advocacy group that ran a campaign asking a total 150 companies to stop investing in the private prison industry.

“In accordance with the principles of the UN Global Compact, with respect to the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights, the pension fund has divested from the for-profit prison industry,” DSM President Hugh Welsh said in a Color of Change statement. “Investment in private prisons and support for the industry is financially unsound, and divestment was the right thing to do for our clients, shareholders, and the country as a whole. DSM is committed to good corporate citizenship and operating in a way that contributes to a better world.”

Sixty million dollars is actually a drop in the bucket for GEO and CCA. The groups together earn over three billion dollars annually on private prisons, and even more on immigrant detention centers. But the move signals a growing distrust in the ballooning private prisons industry, which grew by “approximately 1600% between 1990 and 2009,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

It may be a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start. The real key is to get politicians to stop thinking private prisons are a good idea.

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  • Artor

    It will be hard to get politicians to understand this is a bad idea as long as the prison lobbyists keep paying them big bribes campaign donations.

  • Marcus Ranum

    More politicians in prisons would be a start; then they’d be more like Ritz-Carlton.

  • AsqJames

    Cynical me might note that Obama recently signed the sentencing fairness thingy and over the past 6 months or so even Republicans have started questioning the sanity of the war on drugs and locking up more and more non-violent offenders. Maybe they think the market has topped out and they’re cashing in their profits?

  • fifthdentist

    The state of Georgia’s Republicans have even gotten on board, with prison-reform measures past the last two sessions (but not this year).

    It included increasing the amount of property that brings felony charges — which had not been adjusted since, I think, the 60s — significantly. Something like $500 to $1,500, IIRC. They also made a big commitment to drug courts to keep non-violent addicts out of prisons and jails.