All of the existing banking partners to private prison leader GEO Group have now officially committed to ending ties with the private prison and immigrant detention industry. These banks are JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays, and PNC.
This exodus comes in the wake of demands by grassroots activists — many under the banner of the #FamiliesBelongTogether coalition — shareholders, policymakers, and investors. Major banks supporting the private prisons behind mass incarceration and immigrant detention have now committed to not renew $2.4B in credit lines and term loans to industry giants GEO Group and CoreCivic.
This shift represents an estimated shortfall of 87.4% of all future funding to the industry, which depends on these bank credit lines and loans to finance their day to day operations. Together, these banks commitments — alongside a federal judge’s block on the Trump administration’s plans to expand family detention this weekend, new policy initiatives such as California ending all contracts with private prisons, and Democratic primary candidates publicly raising the idea of a federal ban on for-profit incarceration — lead many to speculate a threat to the survival of the private prison industry all together.
One can only hope. This is an industry that profits on misery and cruelty, and the sooner that these people need to work
As a note if you patronize the following banks, you might want to move your accounts:
Five banks have not yet made the commitment to stop extending their credit lines and term loans to CoreCivic: Regions (headquartered in Birmingham, AL), Citizens (Providence, Rhode Island), Pinnacle Bank (Nashville, TN), First Tennessee Bank (Memphis, TN), and Synovus Bank (Columbus, GA). In response to an inquiry, Pinnacle President and CEO Terry Turner said “while we don’t discuss details of client relationships, we base commercial credit decisions on several factors. In general we lend to businesses based in our markets that have strong leadership teams, sound credit histories and good operating leverage so they can create jobs and enhance the economic health of our markets.” Additionally, a spokesperson from Regions wrote “we recognize that people have differing views about the private sector’s involvement in prisons. This is a complex issue that government officials and policymakers are in the best position to address directly.”
I would note that private prisons are a new phenomenon, and they are hip deep in the creation of our carceral state:
As a brief historical recap: the American private prison industry is a relatively new phenomenon, with the first private prison opening in 1984. Given their business model depends on keeping a consistent and increasing number of people incarcerated, it’s been speculated and critiqued that this is why GEO Group and CoreCivic have spent $25M on lobbying over the past three decades to push for harsher criminal justice and immigration laws. A cycle emerges when one follows the money: everyday people put their money in banks, banks lend that money out to the private prison industry, the private prison industry uses that financing for their day to day work including lobbying, which successfully funnels more detainees into their facilities, and banks reap a payoff from their loans.
These companies need to be ended before their thirst for profits leads them to give IG Farben a run for their money.