New York City has fully divested its employee pension fund from companies operating private prisons and immigrant detention centers — a move in part to protest the Trump administration’s “draconian” immigration and criminal justice agenda, said city Comptroller Scott Stringer on Thursday.
The city is the first public employee pension fund in the nation to completely divest from for-profit prisons, Stringer said at a news conference in lower Manhattan.
“With Donald Trump in the White House, we’re seeing more and more industries try to profit from backwards policies at the expense of immigrants and communities of color, but because of this major new step, we are demonstrating that we will not be complicit, we are standing up for what’s right,” Stringer said.
Trump has made increased immigration enforcement one of his key priorities, ratcheting up immigration-related arrests since taking office. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed federal prosecutors to pursue maximum prison sentences against convicted criminals, an order that legal analysts have said will increase the size of the federal prison population.
Last September the pension fund’s board of trustees voted to study the issue of divesting from private prison operators, citing concerns over reported human rights abuses throughout the industry.
The board voted last month to divest from prison operators G4S, GEO Group, and CoreCivic, and have since sold off $48 million worth of stocks and bonds tied to the companies, Stringer said.
A spokesman for GEO Group said in an email “We strongly reject the baseless claims that led to this misguided decision.”
G4S, a security firm headquartered in the United Kingdom, said in a statement that it “does not run any prisons in the U.S.”
CoreCivic “helps keep communities safe and enrolls thousands of inmates every year in re-entry programs that reduce recidivism,” said a company spokesman.