Scopia Capital, DSM and Amica Mutual Insurance have pulled nearly $60 million of their investments from private prison firms Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group. According to a news release, the divestments came about after online civil rights organization ColorofChange reached out to more than 150 companies urging them to withdraw their funding to protest the “despicable profit motive” allegedly shown by these firms that have resulted in “some of the most abusive and inhumane conditions in the country.”
NEW YORK — In a groundbreaking move, three major corporations have announced the divestment of a combined total of nearly $60,000,000 from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group (GEO), confirmed after ColorOfChange.org urged company executives to reconsider the financial, moral, and political implications of private prisons and divest. In the past few months, ColorOfChange has reached out to more than 150 companies urging divestment, and remain in conversations with dozens of company executives about ending support for the industry.
“The leadership of these companies sets a much needed, powerful new industry standard: investments in private prison companies are unacceptable. What we see here is not just a fluctuating of stock, but a conscience decision on behalf of major companies to cut ties with private prisons. That’s huge.” explained Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.org. “These companies show that divestment is not only the right thing to do, but also a smart financial decision. Today’s news marks an incredibly exciting step forward in the national movement to end for-profit incarceration.”
Asset management giant Scopia Capital, one of the largest institutional investors in private prisons, recently dropped more than 1.5 million GEO Group shares and has committed to full divestment. This is likely the first time that a series of corporations have confirmed divestment from private prisons and publicly denounced investment in the industry.
“Private prisons are one of the pre-eminent civil rights concerns of our time. The despicable profit motive of these companies leads to some of the most abusive and inhumane conditions in the country. The industry disproportionately harms Black and brown communities due to inhumane and discriminatory policies from the ongoing, failed War on Drugs. Equipped with a strong lobbying arm, CCA and GEO Group push hard for criminal justice policy and lucrative contracts that allow them to turn a profit while harming our communities and further corrupting our criminal justice system. We’ve had enough. With more and more frequency, the business community, the public, and politicians are taking action to dissociate from the industry and protect our society from its devastating model.”
President of DSM North America, Hugh Welsh, spoke to the corporation’s decision, “The DSM Netherlands pension fund is committed to a strict socially responsible and sustainable investment policy. 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. 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.”
“These divestment victories further marginalize corporate executives like Larry Zimpleman of Principal Financial Group, who continues to argue his hands are tied to divest his company from the industry. In fact, corporations have the power and moral responsibility to divest. The unethical decision to support private prisons is only going to prove an ever worsening liability. The magnitude of harm caused by the industry cannot be underestimated and our members are committed to replicating these divestment victories across the board. We will continue to demand that The Principal and other investors stop funneling money into for-profit torture,” added Robinson.
Nearly 50,000 ColorOfChange members have joined the organization’s broad national campaign to end the private prison industry and build a more humane, equitable, and effective criminal justice system. The campaign lifts up the voices of ColorOfChange members to encourage corporations, board members and politicians to cut their ties with prison profiteering, and to hold them accountable when they continue working with the private prison industry.
With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.