Author Topic: Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons  (Read 783 times)

Offline imchills

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Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
« on: August 18, 2016, 01:58:35 pm »
The Justice Department plans to phase out its use of private prisons after they were determined to be less safe and less effective that government facilities, The Washington Post reports.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in a memo Thursday instructed officials to not renew contracts with private prison operators or instead to "substantially reduce" the scope of such contracts. The goal is to ultimately end the department's use of privately operated prisons.

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.
A report released last week by the department's inspector general found that privately operated prisons had more problems with assaults and contraband.

In the memo, Yates noted that the Justice Department contracted with privately run institutions initially about 10 years ago after an exploding prison population, but that population has been on the decline since 2013.

She wrote that private persons "served an important role during a difficult time period" but are less effective than government-run facilities.

Offline Battle

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Re: Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2019, 09:24:00 pm »
Wednesday, 2nd October 2019
GEO Group Runs Out of Banks as 100% of Banking Partners Say ‘No’ to the Private Prison Sector
by Morgan Simon

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.

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.”

Even with these remaining partners still at the table, international credit rating agency Fitch downgraded CoreCivic from stable to negative, and stock prices for both companies now near historic lows.

The one year returns to investors for both GEO Group and CoreCivic are down nearly 30%, which classifies them as significantly underperforming when compared to other entities in their investment class of US Real Estate Investment Trusts (a designation that initially allowed private prisons to reap major tax benefits).

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.

Banks are only one piece of the wider financial lives of private prison companies, which include share ownership, bond underwriting, the purchase of bonds, and others.

Still, in the wake of reputational risk and falling share prices, it is questionable at best if new partners will take the leap to join GEO Group and CoreCivic in business and fill their financing gaps.

In addition to the #FamiliesBelongTogether coalition representing over 10 million people nationwide, asset owners and managers of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Confluence Philanthropy network, representing over $2B in AUM, added their voices to a public letter demanding that banks stop financing the private prison industry.

Among others, these signatories include Akonadi Foundation, Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, The Libra Foundation, Zevin Asset Management, and Veris Wealth Partners.

Investors are increasingly asking about, and when possible avoiding, other exposures they have to the industry beyond banks.

GEO Group has already noted the critical impact of the banks committing to end their financial relationships with them.

In a recent SEC filing the company noted that “if other banks or third parties that currently provide us with debt financing or that we do business with decide in the future to cease providing us with debt financing or doing business with us, such determinations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.”

In the meantime, there’s speculation about what the remaining five banks — Regions, Citizens, Pinnacle, First Tennessee, and Synovus — will do about their ties to private prisons and immigrant detention.

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Offline Battle

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Re: Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2020, 11:53:49 am »
Monday, 1oth February 2o2o
Oklahoma jailhouse video appears to show staff ignoring dying inmate
by CBS News

In 2015, Terral Ellis Jr turned himself in to authorities at Ottawa County Jail in Oklahoma.

Less than two weeks later, he was dead.

Newly public surveillance video appears to show workers at the jail failing to respond to repeated calls for help from Ellis, who died from sepsis and pneumonia.

Omar Villafranca talks with Ellis' brother and family attorney about their wrongful death lawsuit.

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Re: Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2020, 10:18:42 pm »
Wednesday, 19th February 2o2o
Students to sue Harvard over prison investments

by Erik Ortiz

They're taking their fight from the campus to the courtroom.

A group of Harvard University students plans to file a lawsuit Wednesday to force the Ivy League school to withdraw its investment funds from companies that profit from the prison industry — ratcheting up past efforts that included a petition drive and protests.

The Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign wants a judge to require the university to divest its $40 billion endowment — the largest in academia — from prisons and related companies and produce a report outlining its direct and indirect investments in the industry.

In addition, the group is accusing the school of violating its fiduciary duty and breaching its charter and falsely advertising itself as an institution that wants to redress the harms of slavery, while still benefiting from the prison system, which incarcerates more than 2 million people in the United States, about a third of them black.

"Instead of helping to dismantle the entanglement of profiteering, government interests, and the system of human caging, Harvard makes profit off of it," the five student plaintiffs, who are representing themselves, wrote in a draft of the complaint to be filed in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

"That money funds the opulent lifestyles of Harvard's top administrators who are prison profiteers."

This isn't the first time that students who support divestment have sued Harvard.

In 2014, seven student activists filed a lawsuit attempting to compel the school to withdraw its holdings from the fossil fuel industry because of how it contributes to climate change.

The lawsuit was dismissed in court.

Although the plaintiffs argued that they had ties to the endowment because as students they benefited from the investments, a judge at the time wrote they failed "to show that they have been accorded a personal right in the management or administration of Harvard's endowment that is individual to them or distinct from the student body or public at large."

As students, they had no "special standing" in regard to the endowment, which is overseen by the Harvard Management Company, the university's investment arm.

With that in mind, the five plaintiffs in this latest lawsuit are taking a new tack: They're more than just students — all of them have donated money to the school in the past year.

"Our standing now is based on the premise that we're donors to the university," Xitlalli Alvarez, a plaintiff and a doctoral student in anthropology, said.

"This is one way to hold Harvard's feet to the fire," Alvarez added.

The Harvard Management Company referred questions Tuesday to the school, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.

A spokesman for university President Lawrence S. Bacow, who is named in the suit, told NBC News last year that Bacow has "appreciated the opportunity to meet with advocates for prison divestment" and offered to arrange a meeting for them with the Harvard committee that makes endowment decisions.

Such a meeting took place in October and included Bacow, according to the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign.

But the students said the committee wouldn't commit to providing an "exposure assessment" of the endowment's investments in prison-related companies and declined to say whether divestment was even on the table.

Bacow has maintained that social change must occur through education and teaching, as opposed to modifying the endowment.

According to campaign members, Bacow told them last spring that the school's prison-related investments are only $18,000.

But based on a review of the 1 percent of the school's endowment invested in public holdings, the figure is at least $3 million, the campaign found, according to research published in April.

While Harvard has previously agreed to pull investments from companies that profit from the tobacco industry, apartheid South Africa and the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, students who support divestment from the fossil fuel and prison industries say they are puzzled by the current inaction.

But pressure has been building on campus for divestment, particularly related to fossil fuel companies.
Faculty members in the arts and sciences department this month voted overwhelmingly in favor of fossil fuel divestment, and Bacow said he would bring the resolution to the school's endowment committee for consideration.

Richard Daynard, a distinguished professor of law at Northeastern University who has spearheaded litigation against the tobacco industry, said the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign's lawsuit has a chance to gain traction because the plaintiffs are also donors, which adds an extra distinction and an argument that they have more at stake in how the endowment is invested.

Ted Hamilton, who was one of the Harvard students who filed the fossil fuel-related lawsuit in 2014, said he is supportive of the current plaintiffs' efforts.

By suing the school, "you make them articulate and defend their position in a different forum," Hamilton, the co-founder of the nonprofit Climate Defense Project, said.

"And you create a historic record of activists trying to hold institutions accountable and make them admit in open court why they're on the wrong side of history."

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Offline Battle

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Re: Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2020, 03:04:31 pm »
Friday, 21st February 2o2o
South Carolina Prison Guard Sentenced in Inmate Stabbing
by Associated Press

(COLUMBIA, S.Carolina) — A former South Carolina Corrections officer convicted of stabbing an inmate with a homemade knife was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday.

Jarrell Boyan, 29, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit murder in August for stabbing Kenya Spry multiple times with a knife the inmate had made, The State reported.

Boyan told federal judge Michelle Childs at the hearing that he had “blacked out” during the confrontation in 2016 and unintentionally grabbed the weapon from his pocket instead of a pair of handcuffs, according to the newspaper.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Alyssa Richardson disputed his explanation and pointed to video evidence that showed him take the knife from the inmate and put it down the hall in a safe room.

Boyan had to go back into room, retrieve the knife, then stab Spry, Richardson said.

Boyan’s lawyer countered that Spry had a lengthy disciplinary record, including harassing and attacking prison guards.

A former Corrections warden called as a witness told the judge Spry was “the most violent and destructive inmate" he'd seen in 40 years.

Boyan was fired after the attack.

Spry underwent multiple surgeries for his injuries.

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