That’s what Wells Fargo says about its “goal for social responsibility” but their investments say otherwise.
Wells Fargo has a major presence in New Jersey’s urban centers and neighborhoods. It’s marketing strategy includes a significant outreach to minorities and immigrants. However, it is one of the largest investors in private prisons. Their investments include GEO Group which owns Delaney Hall and Corrections Corp of America (CCA) which owns and operates the Elizabeth Detention Center.
Wells Fargo and its investors are making billions while people suffer as these for-profit prison operators squeeze every last dime out of the facilities they run. This means smaller food portions, denial of access to medical care, inadequately and poorly trained guards, limited access to personal hygiene items, more prisoners to a cell, etc.
These conditions exist in a system with limited oversight which is further shrouded by corporate secrecy. This focus on profit over human rights creates an environment where abuse is overlooked, tolerated and, in the most egregious cases, justified.
GEO Group is a multi-national corporation with a long record of riots, verbal, physical and sexual abuse at the facilities that it runs. It has paid tens of millions of dollars resulting from lawsuits including suits alleging wrongful death.
CCA also has a highly blemished record. The Elizabeth Detention Center gained national notoriety when the NY Times published a series of articles about the under-reported deaths of people in immigration detention. The series included several stories about Boubacar Bah a Guinean tailor who died from severe head trauma after being denied medical treatment by CCA staff for 13 hours.
Meanwhile CCA & GEO are using their profits from lucrative government contracts to lobby through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for stricter criminal sentencing guidelines and harsher immigration enforcement.
It is time for Wells Fargo to be true to its message. They need to dump the prison stock and invest in humanity. That is exactly what the National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign is trying to do. Enlace is leading a national grassroots effort to force Wells Fargo to stop investing in the for-profit prison industry. The campaign is tailored to each community, in San Franciso they are holding rallies outside of Wells Fargo’s national headquarters, in Colorado individuals are signing pledges to remove their funds from Wells Fargo branches.
There is some discussion about bringing the national campaign to NJ. How will it look here? Organizers are not quite sure yet, but stay tuned because details are sure to follow.
For more information about the National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign click here. or contact Enlace firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-284-3802.
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