DIVEST: REJECT UNETHICAL PRACTICES
→ RESEARCH YOUR INVESTMENTS
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."
→ MAKE SURE YOUR RETIREMENT FUNDs ARE ETHICAL
“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.
→ HOLD YOUR BANK ACCOUNTABLE
There are 14 big banks that have participated in financing private prisons run 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, seven of them (Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, PNC, and FifthThird Bank) have announced that they will be exiting their relationships with private prison financing.
US Bancorp stated it has been reducing its exposure to the sector due to "risk characteristics" and that it plans to exit the relationships once its contractual obligations expire. Barclays Bank has also said it will not refinance existing contracts and currently has “no plans” to enter any new financing arrangements with these companies. Activists are currently asking for an even stronger statement from US Bank and Barclays, that more fully matches the commitment of leading banks that they will not finance private prisons moving forward.
The banks that have not yet made firm statements regarding their continued participation in the private prison industry include Regions Financial Corporation, Citizens Financial Group, Pinnacle Financial Partners (PNFP), First Tennessee Bank and Synovus Bank.
Public activism is really working on this front. In total, the divestment commitments from these banks so far represent more than 87.4% of all financing available to both CoreCivic and GEO Group. GEO Group recently stated that activism targeting big banks poses significant risk to their bottom line.
NOW IS THE TIME TO CONTINUE TO HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.
Write a letter to your bank urging them to Break Up with Private Prisons. As a customer, if you bank at one of the banks who is still financing private prisons, you can let them know that if they don’t break up with private prisons, you will break up with them.
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)