Methodist Church Pulls Investments from Private Prisons

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Damon Hininger, President and CEO of CCA
Private 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Church, “after six months of study, discussion and prayerful consideration,” announced on January 3 that it had withdrawn nearly $1 million in stocks from two private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group.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.
- David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
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)

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


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