Vanderbilt must follow Columbia University & University of California in Divesting from Prisons

via Vanderbilt Hustler | By Shawn Reilly

Private prisons are symbolic of wider, systemic problems; and we must divest!

In a time where so many of us feel lost in this increasingly charged political environment, and we are all looking for ways to plug in, opposing the prison industrial complex is an easy target. Prison reform is an issue we all have stake in. In 2016, private prisons were holding almost 75% of federal immigration detainees. Prisons are incubators for physical and sexual violence, transphobic and ableist discrimination. Our prisons hold massive amounts of Black folks, who are nearly six times as likely to be arrested than whites. Systematic and racially biased policing and imprisonment of people hurt families, destroys communities, and undermines democracy and basic freedoms. The privatization and expansion of the prison industrial complex is a disgusting manifestation of the increasingly capitalist and inhumane world that is evolving around us.

Last August, the United States Department of Justice formally issued a directive intending to terminate all contracts with the private prison industry. The Department, led by Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates, cited issues with security and safety, lack of cost efficiency, and lack of offered services as just some of the reasons that the DOJ will be allowing their contracts to expire with private prisons.

In 2015, Columbia University groundbreakingly announced their divestment from private prisons, selling off their shares in corporations that participate in the privatization of prisons, including CoreCivic (formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America). After students highlighted that these investments were supporting an unjust violent system built on discrimination, the school formally divested. Columbia has been joined by organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and the University of California’s 10 campuses in its condemnation of private prisons.

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Divest from fossil fuels and private prisons, student coalition urges USF

VIA Tampa Bay Times | By Claire McNeill 

TAMPA — As University of South Florida students cast votes in student elections this week, they’ll also be deciding on a referendum that would urge the university to “divest from fossil fuels, private prisons and companies complicit in human rights violations.”

The referendum is non-binding but would send a renewed message to USF leaders that students care about how the university invests its dollars. It calls for the formation of a “socially responsible investment committee” to oversee a divestment effort.

“As a university, we can clear our conscience and help not only the environment that we live in, but also the people,” said Hafsa Quraishi, a sophomore from Jacksonville involved in the push. “A bunch of universities have already successfully divested from controversial companies like this, and they’re still at the top of their game.”

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Seattle just showed one way to disrupt Trump’s mass deportations

Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council voted not to renew its contract with Wells Fargo, pulling more than $3 billion in city funds from the Wall Street giant. Headlines focused on the bank’s financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline and its recent fake account scandal. And rightly so—Wells Fargo defrauded over two million of its own customers.

But Seattle divested also because Wells Fargo bankrolls private prison companies.

The city’s resolution highlighted the privately operated Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, run by GEO Group, where immigrants and refugees from across Washington State are detained as they await deportation hearings.

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How to Organize Private Prison Divestment

Via Blog of the APA | by Janice Dowell

When prisons disappear human beings in order to convey the illusion of solving social problems, penal infrastructures must be created to accommodate a rapidly swelling population of caged people… [This] work, which used to be the primary province of government, is now also performed by private corporations…

Angela Davis (1998)

With the highest prison population rate in the world, private prisons were already big business in the U.S. before the election of Donald Trump. His election, though, has been good news for the industry.  Indeed, the expectation that a Trump presidency will see growth in the size of the for-profit prison population has already shown “gains” in that market.  Some of the projected growth is tied to the expectation of a dramatic increase in the detention of undocumented residents.  But this is not the only source from which the industry aims to find new business.  The increase in the incarceration rate over the last 30 years is largely the result of the passage of legislation that both increased the likelihood of jail time and the length of sentences for non-violent drug offenses.  With at least 45 million dollars spent on lobbying and campaign donations, the prison industry has played no small role in seeing this legislation enacted. The pro-business American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has long lobbiedsuccessfully—for laws that would increase prison population sizes. Furthermore, these laws, such as the Truth in Sentencing laws enacted in twenty-five states in 1995 alone, disproportionately affect black and brown communities, as well as immigrants.

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Princeton Grad students: Vote yes to prison divest

Via The Daily Princetonian | By Max Grear

This column is the second part in a series focusing on a student campaign for private prison divestment as a lens for examining questions regarding historical and present injustice, institutional responsibility and accountability, and mechanisms of change. This series reflects my personal involvement (not as a spokesperson) in the Princeton Private Prison Divest coalition (PPPD).

This week, graduate students will have the opportunity to express support for the campaign to divest from private prisons and detention centers. The issue of private prison divestment will appear as a referendum question in the Graduate Student Government election, and a “Yes to Divest” majority would be pivotal as PPPD’s campaign continues to build momentum. Voting begins tomorrow, Feb. 23 and ends on Mar. 1.

Divestment from the private prison and detention industry is an incredibly urgent matter given the current political landscape, particularly given the fact that 90 percent of immigrant detainees are held in private facilities. Just this past week, a massive escalation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids has spread fear among immigrant communities, making it abundantly clear why stocks in private prison and detention corporations have soared since Trump’s election. Even DACA recipients are now vulnerable to detainment.

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The GEO Group Announces $360 Million Acquisition of Community Education Centers

Via Business Wire

BOCA RATON, Fla.-The GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE:GEO) (“GEO”), a fully integrated equity real estate investment trust (“REIT”) specializing in the design, financing, development, and operation of correctional, detention, and community reentry facilities around the globe and a leading provider of evidence-based offender rehabilitation, announced today the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Community Education Centers (“CEC”), a private provider of rehabilitative services for offenders in reentry and in-prison treatment facilities as well as management services for county, state, and federal correctional and detention facilities.

Pursuant to the terms of the definitive agreement, GEO will acquire CEC for $360 million in an all cash transaction, excluding transaction related expenses. GEO will not assume any debt as a result of the transaction. GEO plans to integrate CEC into GEO’s existing business units of GEO Corrections & Detention and GEO Care.

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