EXPAND YOUR IMPACT: JOIN A CITIZEN COALITION

Building a campaign to pressure your city, university, pension fund, company, or faith group to divest from private prisons can create huge pressure on the prison industrial complex and its main investors.  

ENSURE THAT YOUR PENSION FUND IS ETHICAL

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. For example, the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board has direct holdings in both CoreCivic and GeoGroup, as do many other educational retirement and employer pension funds across the country.   

Check out this toolkit to learn about the process for working with your Union to help the Board divest.

PUSH BACK ON THE Parallel InDUSTRIES

There are numerous companies who run the parallel industries that make private prisons possible, from food services, to medical care, to transportation and tech infrastructure. If you work at one of these companies, organize your fellow workers to push back on the company’s support of private prisons. This was recently done in the #WayfairWalkout as workers walked out in protest of the company’s decision to sell furniture to operators of facilities for migrant children detained at the border.

Check out this great article and graphic showing many of the companies contracted by ICE at these facilities

ORGANIZE YOUR CAMPUS

Universities invest in the prison industrial complex (PIC) through their endowments and pension funds. In other words, universities profit off of human misery and prison expansion. Students across the nation are standing up to demand their universities become Freedom Campus centers of innovation and divest from for-profit prisons and other prison profiteers that are driving mass incarceration and immigration enforcement.

Check out this toolkit for campus organizers and if you are in California check out the CalPERS action toolkit

MOBILIZE YOUR FAITH GROUP

Encourage your faith group to divest from private prisons. In January 2012, the United Methodist General Board of Pension & Health Benefits (GBPHB) divested from the largest private, for-profit prison entities: Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) and GEO Group. GBPHB also created a new investment screen to prohibit investment in companies that derive more than 10% of revenue from the management and operation of prison facilities.

These petitions for Member Education and Mobilization are great examples of what you can introduce with your own faith community:

  • Concerned members of the United Methodist Church (UMC) set up a petition, United Methodists Against Unjust Investments, to raise awareness about the UMC's investments and to educate its membership about private prisons.

  • Learn more about the UMC pension divestment story here.

  • In July 2012, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted to affirm a statement they made in 2003 to oppose private prisons. The Resolution Calling for the Abolishment of Private Prisons also encourages individual Presbyterians and congregations to divest from private prisons.

DIVEST YOUR CITY

Cities’ investments are typically in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, so their decision to divest will be felt. Cities such as Portland, Seattle, and New York, NY have all achieved major prison divestment successes.  

Check out some great examples of other cities who have divested from private prisons

Join the Freedom City Movement

Freedom Cities is a movement that seeks to make entire cities, towns, and communities safe for workers, the disabled, immigrants, Black people, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and all oppressed communities. 

This toolkit lays out the actions to take to make this happen.

More information: Freedom Cities movement