NYC Pension Funds Made a $48 Million Statement About Private Prisons


In the final divestment announcement last week, the comptroller’s office cited reputational risks (poor conditions, high rates of violence, improper staffing levels, inmate abuse and other human rights concerns), legal risks (lawsuits stemming from human rights abuses can lead to high payouts, making private prison companies less profitable), and regulatory risks (such as a future presidential administration reinstating the Obama administration’s plan to phase out the use of private prison companies in the federal prison system).


Both civil rights and immigrant rights activists cheered the decision. Private prison companies also happen to own and operate many of the nation’s immigrant detention centers. The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a member of a national prison divestment campaign.


The comptroller’s office found that privately owned detention centers hold as many as 65 percent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, and at least eight immigrant detainees have died while in those private facilities.

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