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Knowing what you own is the first step to aligning your investments with your values. You may be invested in state violence through companies involved in mass incarceration, immigrant detention and surveillance, military occupation, or the border industry. Core Civic and Geo Group are the two big private prison companies to look out for, and mutual funds like Blackrock and Vanguard also often have holdings in these private prisons.

Talk to your investment advisor or check out the great resources below from INVESTIGATE AFSC to learn more about where you may be invested.

INVESTIGATE: What are you invested in? This database includes original research and lists over 150 company and industry profiles. Learn how companies profit from and support state violence. Then use this knowledge to create change.

Webinar: Investigate the Prison Industry This webinar presents research mapping the U.S. prison industry and shows how to use the Investigate tool to measure your "Prison Footprint."



“Why would building a retirement nest egg possibly harm others?” Well, for most people the starting place to invest is in the stock market — and when you look at the S&P 500 (a list of the largest publicly held companies), those are often the same companies who are destroying the environment, paying workers poverty wages, and otherwise implicated in human rights abuses. Or, you may have a SEP IRA or Roth IRA held at a big-name bank — the majority of which have been implicated in financing the private prisons that are profiting from family detention.” These days there are lots of ethically responsible investment options that will still give you a good return on investment.

How To Retire In Style And Build A Real Legacy by Morgan Simon for Forbes

If you have a pension from your employer, the first thing to do is talk to your HR representative to see if you have retirement holdings in BlackRock, Vanguard or other major private prison investors. Many of us are unknowingly complicit in the private prison industry.


There are 6 big banks that have played the largest role in financing debt issued by CoreCivic and The GEO Group, thereby enabling them to maintain and grow their private prisons. In the last several months, under significant public pressure from grassroots activists, shareholders, investors, and political leaders, four of them (Chase, Wells Fargo, BoA, and SunTrust) have announced that they will be exiting their relationships with private prison financing. However, they haven’t yet specified the timeline for ending that financing, nor have they committed to divesting the stock that they own in both of these companies.

Public activism is really working on this front, and GEO Group recently stated that activism targeting big banks poses significant risk to their bottom line.

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Write a letter to your bank urging them to Break Up with Private Prisons. As a customer, you can let them know that if they don’t, you will break up with them.

Use this sample letter as a guide

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: How To Leave Your Big Name Bank by Morgan Simon for Forbes

How to Break Up with Your Bank (2 minute video)