After years of targeted actions by everyday activists and concerned shareholders, JPMorgan Chase announced early this morning that they will stop financing GEO Group and CoreCivic — the largest operators of private prisons and immigrant detention centers in the U.S. This is a big win for the world of corporate accountability; one that many believe wouldn’t have been possible without hundreds of thousands of people nationally demanding change in the wake of growing concern over family detention. It also calls into question the financial viability of the private prison industry, which has come under fire both by activists and financial analysts.
As explored in “What Do Big Banks Have to Do With Private Prisons,” GEO Group and CoreCivic have a long history of profiting from mass incarceration: they make money when beds are filled, justly or unjustly, which is why they've spent$25M on lobbying over the past three decades to push forharsher criminal justice and immigration laws. Interestingly, while only 10% of prisons and jails nationwide are for-profit, a third of all immigrant detention centers are privately owned… receiving over $1B a year in contracts from ICE (almost $5.5M a day of taxpayer money).
Since news of family separation at the southern border began shedding more light on the abuses inside such private facilities, activists across the country have been paying careful attention to who actually enables private prison companies in their day to day operations. In other words, they’ve been meticulously following the money story behind the story — and found that brand-name banks like Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America have provided billions in financing to private prisons over the past decade.