University Investments into Prisons

The clearest link between havens of higher education and private prisons, are direct investments of a university’s endowment in CCA and GEO Group. The most public display of such nefarious investments has been at Columbia University, where in June 2013 a group of students discovered that their university owns 230,432 shares of CCA stock worth $8 million. In February 2014 the newly formed student groups Columbia Prison Divest delivered a letter to President Lee Bollinger demanding, among other things, that Columbia divest all its CCA shares and fully disclose its investments in the future (students can only view 10 percent of the university’s investments currently).

These connections are glaring, the less obvious ones go by the names of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and other members of the “million shares club”—companies that own more than one million shares of CCA and GEO Group, and which collectively own more than two-thirds of these private prison companies. They all have directors and CEOs who sit on the boards of wealthy universities like Stanford and Columbia, and these top universities hand over healthy wads of endowment cash to them too. The full list of mega-powerful conglomerates that take stock in incarceration can be viewed here.

In the spring of 2013, several student groups at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara passed a Student Senate resolution calling for the UC system to dump its “million shares club” investments. California, a state that spends more money on incarceration than higher education,accounted for 12 percent of CCA’s total revenue in 2012.


Read more in the Rolling Stone

5 Links Between Higher Education and the Prison Industry

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