Privatised prisons create negative outcomes for workers, communities and detainees. They consistently lead to worse conditions, under-staffing, overcrowding and warped incentives: more prison inmates means more profits.

A number of these corporations are now cashing in on the detention of migrants and refugees - who they see as a new market opportunity.

Despite these chilling facts, many of us are financially involved in this shady industry via our banks, pensions, savings and insurance schemes.

Time to divest!

The pension funds and banks of workers across the globe have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in private prison companies; by directly holding corporate shares and through index and mutual fund investments.

At the same time, unions are on the frontline of the fight against privatisation of prisons and other public services.

We need to lead by example by ensuring we are no longer financially connected to these corporations.

This is why Public Services International, in coalition with many of our union affiliates, is launching our Pledge for Prison Divestment.




Workers through their unions have already helped pull millions in savings out of prison corporations.

What unions can do

Unions in the public and private sector often hold influence over the governance and investment decisions of their members' pension funds. These funds are some of the largest pools of capital in the world.

While unions might not have full control, they can play a powerful role in creating the case for divestment, building the political pressure and mobilising their members around the issue.

For some, the union might have a seat on the board of the pension fund, allowing for internal lobbying and pressure for divestment.

For others, it might mean researching which major national banks are involved in financing private prisons, educating members on the issue and supporting existing campaigns for divestment.

Until now the Prison Divestment movement has been mostly limited to the United States. This is why Public Services International is coordinating a coalition of unions around the world who will pledge to do all in their power to ensure the money of their members are divested from these companies.

As workers and unions we must lead the fight against prison privatisation and profiteering from pain by ensuring we are not financially supporting this repugnant industry.


Video

AFT's Private Prisons and Investment Risks report reveals the direct and indirect investments public pension funds have in Core Civic and GEO Group, which reap billions each year by jailing minority populations and exploiting the school-to-prison pipeline.

Private Prisons: Investment Risks

Prison Divestment: A Growing Movement


2015

New York State United Teachers adopted a resolution to investigate current pension investments in prisons and to move immediately to divest from prisons.

Columbia University became the very first university in the country to divest its endowment from the private prison industry.

2016

Oregon Education Association, representing pre-K to 12th grade teachers, passes a resolution to push for divestment of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) from prisons and their major investors.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department moved to phase the use of private prisons.

2017

President Trump, who received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from private prison companies, reverses plans to end federal prison privatisation.

The City of Seattle divests $3 billion from major prison lender and Dakota Access Pipeline financier, Wells Fargo.

University of California terminates $475 million worth of contracts with Wells Fargo due to their involvement with prison corproations.

New York City’s pension system becomes the first in the nation to fully divest from private prisons, dumping about $48 million worth of stock and bonds from GEO Group, CoreCivic Inc. (CCA) and G4S.

At its 2017 convention, the AFL-CIO adopted Resolution 25 that resolves, “AFL-CIO, its affiliates and state federations promote federal, state and local legislation, policies and practices that end the for-profit pipeline of correctional facilities or services.”

2018

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) voted to divest more than $12 million from GEO Group and CoreCivic.

American Federation of Teachers ended its member benefits mortgage program with Wells Fargo for their support of the gun industry, and issued Part 1 of a follow-up report recommending Wells Fargo for divestment due to their support of the prison industry.

2019

JP Morgan Chase agrees to stop financing the prison industry.

Wells Fargo announces it will also cut ties with the prison industry.

What individuals can do

Want to make sure your money isn't propping up private prisons?

There are two main aspects of your finances you need to check:


  • Who do you bank with?

There are banks who actively support the private prison industry by providing loans and finance services. Public pressure has already led some of the biggest banks in the world to divest from prisons, leading to a sharp fall in share prices of the prison companies. Commit to do research on your bank, letting them know your concern if they are invested - or threatening to leave unless they change their ways. 


  • Who do you save with?

Is your pension fund part of a wider fund? Do you, as a pension fund member/contributor, have access to investment information? Does your union have a position on the board? Can you find out who your representative on the fund is and raise your concerns with them?

Now, sign the Pledge!

Video

AFT's Private Prisons and Investment Risks report reveals the direct and indirect investments public pension funds have in Core Civic and GEO Group, which reap billions each year by jailing minority populations and exploiting the school-to-prison pipeline.

Private Prisons: Investment Risks