New Data Reveals Wall Street Continues to Provide Private Prisons Over $2.6 Billion in Financing

Apr 9, 2019
10:28 AM

The following media released was shared on Tuesday morning by the Center for Popular Democracy:

NEW YORK — Today, a freshly published data brief by In the Public Interest, the Public Accountability Initiative, and the Center for Popular Democracy revealed that Wall Street banks provide over $2.6 billion in credit and loans to private prison companies, despite widespread reports on human rights abuses that occur in prisons and detention centers those companies operate. The data brief, The Wall Street Banks Still Financing Private Prisons —the first comprehensive data of this type to come out in the last two years— finds that Bank of America is the only top 6 US bank that is currently lending to private prison companies but has yet to commit to ending its financing relationships with the industry.

Based on an analysis of private prison companies GEO Group and CoreCivic’s most recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 2018 filings, key findings revealed:

  • Wall Street banks currently have credit arrangements of $2.692 billion with CoreCivic and GEO Group. This figure includes $1.7 billion in lines of credit and $992 million in term loans. Through these agreements, the companies regularly tap the banks as sources of credit to support their operations and expansion.
  • Only three banks are part of the revolving line of credit and term loan facilities for both private prison companies: Bank of America, SunTrust, and JPMorgan Chase. In March 2019, JPMorgan Chase committed to no longer provide financing to the private prison industry.
  • Bank of America is the only top 6 US bank that is currently lending to private prison companies and has not committed to ending its financing relationships with the industry (In March 2019 both JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo publicly committed to exit its relationships with the industry). It is unknown whether the other three top 6 banks —Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley— have policies in place that restrict lending to the private prison industry.

The full report is here:

Private prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic, are particularly reliant on help from financial institutions because they are structured as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which allows them to avoid corporate-level taxation. While the Trump administration promotes zero-tolerance and family separation policies, they continue to make private prisons a lucrative business investment for Wall Street. In 2019, immigrant rights advocates joined forces under the banners of #FamiliesBelongTogether and #BackersOfHate to urge financial institutions to cut their financial ties with Geo Group and CoreCivic, the private prison companies responsible for terrorizing people of color and immigrant communities.

“The banks are financing the private prison companies detaining immigrants and feeding off of the Trump administration’s policies of hate. This report highlights the role Bank of America has in financing for-profit entities running migrant detention facilities. They’ve tried to convince the public that they are ‘socially responsible’ but they can’t escape the hard facts. It is morally wrong and indefensible to support the companies caging human beings and it is about time that they put their promises of social responsibility into action,” said Julio López Varona, co-director of community dignity campaigns at the Center For Popular Democracy.

“Big banks, like Bank of America, should not be profiting off the suffering of refugee children and families,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, Chair of Families Belong Together. “Americans won’t stand by while corporations enable the Trump Administration to rip babies from their mothers arms, mass-incarcerate families, and traumatize thousands of children. JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo committing to stop financing private prisons was a major win. It’s time now for the rest of Wall Street to stop financing these human rights abuses.”

“Bank of America stands out for its extensive financing relationships with both major private prison companies,” said Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative. “Brian Moynihan’s bank is profiting from family separation and detention at the same time he is trying to tell us how socially responsible it is.”

“Following pressure from immigrants and allies across the country, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo publicly committed to cease financing private prison and immigrant detention companies,” said Mateo Guerrero-Tabares, lead organizer of Make the Road New York. “As this report shows, the Geo Group and CoreCivic remain enormously reliant on Wall Street financing, and our communities will continue mobilizing to demand that all banks stop bankrolling these companies to put our loved ones in cages.”

“Moms make most consumer decisions for families and we care deeply about how our banks are using our deposits. We will not stand for our banks being complicit in the Trump Administration’s horrifying treatment of immigrant children and families,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executor Director of MomsRising. “The private prison industry is currently detaining over 70 percent of immigrants in ICE custody and is also complicit in the epidemic of mass incarceration that devastates so many communities and disproportionately harms communities of color. The moms of our nation call on all banks to stop using our money to finance private prisons.”