Private prisons leveraged their future by borrowing from banks against future arrests.
The immigration-rights movement completed a major goal on March 5, when J.P. Morgan Chase became the first major bank to eliminate the financing of private prisons from their portfolios.
Ana Maria Archila, co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy and Javier H. Valdez, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, wrote of this historic event while reporting for The Nation.
The article in The Nation says that 70 percent of immigrants detained in our country are held in private institutions such as industry leaders Geo Group (GEO) and Core- Civic (CORE).
It also described the continued determination of immigrant leaders and their movement, who want to cut off all sources of funding for private prisons. These leaders claim the private prisons
run by GEO and CORE have racked up notorious records of abuse and neglect with histories of violence and sexual assault against detainees— especially toward the LB- GTQ community.
Jonathan Cortes, a detainee who tried to gain political asylum in our country due to the violence against gays in Honduras, later wrote of his experience in a private prison, equating it to being “thrown into a cage” and being fed a diet of boiled potatoes almost exclusively.
“No matter how I tell my story, it won’t describe the horrors I faced during the seven weeks I was in Core Civic’s detention facility,” Cortes said.
Archila and Valdez, correspondents for The Nation, lauded the work The Nation- al Prison Divestment Campaign has done to expose how detaining immigrants generates huge profits for the companies and hefty returns for its shareholders.
The Nation went on to report that The Center for Popular Democracy (CFPD) and Make the Road New York
(MTRNY) have validated well known assumptions about private prisons, once known for the overcrowding of inmates and now a holding pen for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, who are being corralled daily, far from their families.
Valdez and Archila continued the findings when they highlighted CFPD’s and MTRNY’s statistics that showed since 2017, private prisons have leveraged their future government contracts by borrowing from banks against future arrests.
This has allowed them to establish borrowed re- serves, representing 90 percent of CORE’s cash on hand and 95 percent of GEO’s. Third-party bank financing, in terms of bonds, letters of credit and series rated trading, have become the norm for the leveraged prison industry.
With this industry enjoying a credit bonanza, the two reporters described the hard work of Corporate Backers of Hate, an organization behind a campaign to expose the profiteering of the private prison industry.
The Nation reported that the Corporate Backers of Hate, upon discovery of billions in institutional lend- ing, went on the offensive with a series of very public protests, putting banks including JPMorgan Chase and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, in the spotlight as “responsible for the grave human rights abuses” going on in our nation’s private prisons.
The protests paid off with JPMorgan Chase’s divestiture from the private prison industry.
Now, the Corporate Backers of Hate campaign turns to the remaining finance mechanisms of the industry. In particular, banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Sun Trust will be targeted if their financing of private prisons does not cease.
The authors of the article feel that with continued pressure, it will be possible to put the “morally bankrupt industry out of business once and for all.”