New York City’s pension system has become the first in the nation to fully divest from private prisons, Comptroller Scott Stringer announced on Thursday, reports NY Daily News.
The city has sold off about $48 million in stocks and bonds of three private prison companies after a unanimous vote from the funds’ trustees.
The move comes after reported incidents of alleged human rights abuses across the private prison industry, and after eight immigrant detainees have died in the last year while in private immigration detention centers, which hold 65% of ICE detainees.
“We’re seeing more and more industries try to profit from backwards policies at the expense of immigrants and communities of color. But we are demonstrating that we will not be complicit,” Stringer said.
In a meeting in May, the trustees of the city’s pension funds voted in favor of divesting. Since then, the stocks and bonds in three companies, GEO Group, CoreCivic, and G4S, have been sold.
The trustees first voted to study divesting in September, citing concerns about health and safety violations as well as human rights abuses across the industry. The trustees can only divest after an analysis determines doing so would add minimal or no risk to the pension funds. An outside consultant concluded that maintaining investments in the prison industry brought about “inherent investment risks”, such as reputational and legal risks, among others.
“Our investments need to reflect our values. To that end, divesting our City’s pension funds from private prison companies reflects our belief that the abuses of this industry do not advance safety or justice in our society,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams said.
The city liquidated all investments in companies that derive at least 20% of revenue from private prisons and will analyze the portfolios annually to confirm that no additional private prison investments have been added.
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