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Excerpt: "The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, 'after six months of study, discussion and prayerful consideration,' announced on January 3 that it had withdrawn nearly $1 million in stocks from two private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group."

The National Prison Divestment Campaign scored a victory against the prison-industrial complex. (photo: Inter Press Service)
The National Prison Divestment Campaign scored a victory against the prison-industrial complex. (photo: Inter Press Service)



Methodist Church Pulls Investments From Private Prisons

By David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov

21 February 12

 

rivate prison operators have lost a high-profile investor, now that one of the nation's largest Protestant churches has pulled its money from the companies.

The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, "after six months of study, discussion and prayerful consideration," announced on January 3 that it had withdrawn nearly $1 million in stocks from two private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group.

A spokesperson for the board said the decision was not based on finance, but morality. "Our board simply felt that it did not want to profit from the business of incarcerating others," Colette Nies, managing director of communications for the board, told The Crime Report.

She added: "We believe that profiting from incarceration is contrary to Church values."

The decision comes after a year of lobbying by the National Prison Divestment Campaign, a coalition of immigrant rights, criminal justice and other organizations targeting CCA and GEO. The effort seeks to convince private and public institutions that for-profit prisons are a bad idea.

One of the major objections to private prisons is that, unlike normal prisons, they have no incentive to rehabilitate prisoners because private prisons profit from keeping people incarcerated. Last week CCA was the subject of controversy when it was revealed that it was offering to buy state-owned prisons and operate them for 20 years on the condition that the states keep the prisons at least 90% full.

Among the largest investors in CCA and GEO are Manhattan-based BlackRock Inc., and Boston-based Wellington Management Company and Fidelity Management and Research. The president and CEO of CCA is Damon T. Hininger and GEO's chairman of the board and CEO is George C. Zoley.

To Learn More:

Companies that Operate or Manage Prison Facilities Added to List of Ineligible Securities (General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church)

Profiting from Prisons (by Hannah Rappleye, Crime Report)

Unholy Alliance How the Private Prison Industry is Corrupting our Democracy and Promoting Mass Incarceration (PICO

National Network and Public Campaign (pdf) (National Prison Divestment Campaign)

Private Prison Company to Demand 90% Occupancy (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

 

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+28 # WFO 2012-02-21 16:01
What was the Methodist Church doing investing in Private Prisons in the first place!

The church was engaged in an evil partnership:

"Last year the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers. Their largest facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million.

Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute."
 
 
+6 # Glen 2012-02-22 06:23
My reaction exactly, WFO. What was the original intent of the church to engage in privatization? Privatization has been growing in all realms for a while now. I have to laugh whenever there is a comment concerning socialization and the "fear" it engenders. It ain't happening.
 
 
+12 # Skanner 2012-02-22 09:00
For God's sake, give 'em credit for recognizing the error of their ways and pulling the church's money out of prison industry investments. If you want their move to serve as an example for others, give praise where it's due. Calling them 'evil' after the fact is counter-product ive.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2012-02-23 11:46
All these church groups are more like a business or corporation, Skanner. They are not innocents abroad. There must be a reason they invested in the first place and also for pulling out. (guess that's not the best phrase during these most recent contraception debates)
 
 
+27 # IndigoE 2012-02-21 19:25
Our country took the low road at some point... Can we possibly find our way back to the "high road"? "Private Prisons", "Private Contractors"... When such entities are owned by public communities, there is the possibility of control over them... otherwise, watch out, you could be their next person of interest.
 
 
+19 # Tippitc 2012-02-21 20:12
Private prisons - if that is not a set-up ripe for corruption I don't know what is!! And once again - who gets to pay that bill - we do, the American taxpayer!! Shame on Georgia for taking the low-road and Shame on the Methodist Church - maybe they should have engaged in some "prayerful consideration" before they invested in private prisons. A tissue-paper thin excuse.
 
 
+33 # DaveM 2012-02-21 21:04
Which prison would Jesus buy?
 
 
+13 # Carbonman1950 2012-02-21 23:06
IndigoE - This nation took, or at least marked, its turn onto the low road November 4, 1980 when we elected Ronald Reagan president. While he never actually spoke the phrase "greed is good," he began the popularization of that idea. An idea that had for centuries been considered immoral and even sinful. I am not normally one to quote the Bible, but it says that "the love of money is the root of all evil" and I am certain that is true.
 
 
+16 # Valleyboy 2012-02-22 03:16
Good to read about religious types actually doing the right thing for once!
 
 
+14 # T4D 2012-02-22 06:39
The United Methodist Church is a connectional church. This frequently means that weird things can happen at high levels without no knowledge for ordinary members, as in me. At least I can now celebrate that conscience finally moved the "Board" to end this evil. (Note, it was a woman who led the process.)
 
 
+9 # lilpat126 2012-02-22 11:26
Thumbs up to them to the for their epiphany.
 
 
+2 # L mac 2012-02-22 18:01
I'm wondering how many of us readers have checked out what our IRA's are invested in?
 

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