New York becomes first city to fully divest from private prisons

The Big Apple is turning its back on funding from for-profit detention.

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

New York City announced last week that it had become the first city to fully divest from private prisons in its pension fund investments, liquidating approximately $48 million in stocks and bonds supporting for-profit prison companies.

Motivated by conscience over financial concerns, the decision comes as a major move for campaigns opting for hyper-local rejection of for-profit prisons.

By the end of last year, many believed that the use of private prisons nationwide would be dramatically cut in the wake of multiple critical reports and a Department of Justice announcement that they would be eliminated from Bureau of Prisons operations. However, the Attorney General of the new administration, Jeff Sessions, reversed that directive very early on in his tenure. The industry, which garners a large portion of its revenue from immigration detention, expects dramatic growth in the President Trump era.

“As President Trump ratchets up hateful rhetoric and steps up deportations, private prison companies are going to see enormous reputational harm - and that means they’ll become even riskier investments. Morally, the industry wants to turn back the clock on years of progress on criminal justice, and we can’t sit idly by and watch that happen,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said.

“Divesting is simply the right thing to do - financially and morally.”

MuckRock is awaiting further details on the sales, which have taken place since the New York City Pension Funds’ Trustees voted to divest in May.

To learn more about private prisons, visit the Private Prison Project.


Image via Wikimedia Commons