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Divest From the Business of Incarceration

Photo by Chris Friese | CC BY 2.0

The Trumpist policy of kidnapping children at the border has begun to shine a light on the nature of imprisonment in the United States for people who didn’t pay attention before. Over 60% of all detained immigrants are in private prisons. CoreCivic is one of the biggest private prison corporations in the United States. CoreCivic used to be called Corrections Corporation of America but like other companies profiting in human flesh (Blackwater, for one), they felt a need to re-brand. Anyhow several employee retirement funds have money invested in the private prison business. Another corporate prison entity deeply involved in the US’s inhumane immigration policy is GEO Group. Like CoreCivic, they have been in the business a while and profit greatly from the immigration policies now being ramped up by the Trumpists.

The current immigration policy is not new.  However, the Trump administration’s harsh interpretation of the policy is not only morally objectionable, it is akin to the breaking apart of families that occurred during slavery and the destruction of indigenous families that occurred during the US expansion west. In other words, the current ICE policy of taking children from their parents because their parents were determined to have entered the United States illegally (an arbitrary designation in itself) is a crime against humanity.

When it comes to private prisons, the facts are thus:  in order for those facilities to make a profit they must be full. This is one reason why the regular “justice” system hands out so many long sentences.  However, since the number of arrests has not kept up with the number of prison beds being built, the need to generate profit has convinced those who manage and profit from private prisons to work with immigration officials and fill their facilities with people from other nations seeking asylum or work.  The government’s enforcement wing known familiarly as ICE has obliged by arresting and detaining thousands more individuals than under previous administrations.  Yet, to the dismay of the Trumpists, people continue to seek asylum in this nation.  The administration’s response has been to kidnap the children at the border and hold them until it gets its way on immigration policy.

Capitalism is not an immoral system, nor is it a moral one.  It has no conscience. Its only purpose is to make profit.  Most executives involved in this pursuit have set aside their morality to make that profit.  Consequently, moral pleas to the men and women profiting from the private prison complex are wasted energy.  However, if their bank balance can be negatively affected, they may reconsider their investment in the business of incarcerating human beings.  The funds listed below should be challenged to divest from these companies who profit from the incarceration of human beings. If your retirement money is on this list, it might be time to start a divestment campaign against this despicable industry. Demand that your retirement money be invested elsewhere.

CALIFORNIA PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF OHIO

NEW YORK STATE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM

NEW YORK STATE COMMON RETIREMENT FUND

STATE BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION OF FLORIDA RETIREMENT SYSTEM

CALIFORNIA STATE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM

RETIREMENT SYSTEMS OF ALABAMA

EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF TEXAS

ARIZONA STATE RETIREMENT SYSTEM

UTAH RETIREMENT SYSTEMS

OREGON PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT FUND

MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF MICHIGAN

NEW MEXICO EDUCATIONAL RETIREMENT BOARD

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLS RETRMT SYS

LOUISIANA STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM

TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF TEXAS

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT ASSOCIATION OF COLORADO

TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY

STATE OF NEW JERSEY COMMON PENSION FUND D

TIAA CREF INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT LLC

NEW YORK STATE COMMON RETIREMENT FUND

CANADA PENSION PLAN INVESTMENT BOARD

TEXAS PERMANENT SCHOOL FUND

STATE BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION OF FLORIDA RETIREMENT SYSTEM

NJ STATE EMPLOYEES DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLAN

(List information from www.nasdaq.com; accessed June 18, 2018)

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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