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March 7, 2019
When we fight, we win (at least sometimes!): JP Morgan to Cut Ties with Private Prison Companies
JP Morgan has decided to stop financing private prison companies involved in immigration detention. The two largest companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic are deeply reliant on periodic bond issues to finance operations. Both companies are structured as #3a5a6f996caa">real estate investment trusts, and thus required to deliver the bulk of profits over to shareholders. This leaves the companies in need of regular access to credit to fund activities. Though profitable firms, their operations are also highly dependent on changes in public policy. Geo Group’s share value shifts every time Trump opens his mouth. Which, one might imagine, could scare investors.
[caption id="attachment_5168" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Fluctuations in stock prices for GEO Group correlated with policy discussions in 2018[/caption]
From U.S. News’ Business Report on JP Morgan decision:
"We will no longer bank the private prison industry," a company spokesman told Reuters. The decision is a result of the bank's ongoing evaluations of the costs and benefits of serving different industries, he said.
JPMorgan is one of several banks that have underwritten bonds or syndicated loans for CoreCivic Inc and GEO Group Inc, the two major private prison operators in the United States. In 2018, banks, including Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co, raised roughly $1.8 billion in debt over three deals for CoreCivic and GEO Group, according to Refinitiv data.
Wells Fargo said in January it was reducing its relationship with the prison industry as part of its "environmental and social risk management" process.
"Our credit exposure to private prison companies has significantly decreased and is expected to continue to decline, and we are not actively marketing to that sector," Wells Fargo said in its "Business Standards Report" for 2018.
JP Morgan and others have been the target of campaigns trying to cut funding sources to private prison companies for some time. For more information check out Corporate Backers of Hate.
Guardian Investigation of Homestead Facility for Immigrant Teens
The largest detention facility for teenagers is located in Homestead Florida, just outside of Miami. Today, The Guardian has a detailed report on the facility, run by for profit company, Comprehensive Health Services. From the report:
Mixed with the children’s artwork pinned to the walls are notices of procedures for reporting sexual abuse – a reminder of last month’s bombshell claim that thousands of migrant children had been abused in US custody (the programme director insisted there had been no incidents at Homestead in the 12 months it has been open).
There is a strict no-touching rule, meaning that even a child who hugs a sibling could be written up and face disciplinary action. All the children must wake at 6am, seven days a week (lights out is at 10pm), and they are monitored from a central control room 24 hours a day through smart cards they wear on lanyards and that they must scan every time they change location.
They have no access to cellphones or the internet, and personal phone calls, which shelter managers insist are not monitored, are limited to two 10-minute calls a week.
The average length of each child’s stay, during which case workers attempt to locate and vet sponsors, is 58 days – almost three times longer than the 20-day limit for child migrant detention imposed by the 1997 Flores settlement, which Homestead is not obliged to honor because of its designation as a temporary shelter instead of a permanently sited detention facility.
Has the U.S. government been tracking immigration advocates? Apparently, yes
From NBC 7 in San Diego:
"Source: Leaked Documents Show the U.S. Government Tracking Journalists and Immigration Advocates Through a Secret Database," by NBC 7 San Diego's Tom Jones, Mari Payton and Bill Feather: "Documents obtained by NBC 7 Investigates show the U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports. At the end of 2018, roughly 5,000 immigrants from Central America made their way north through Mexico to the United States southern border. The story made international headlines.
"As the migrant caravan reached the San Ysidro Port of Entry in south San Diego County, so did journalists, attorneys, and advocates who were there to work and witness the events unfolding. But in the months that followed, journalists who covered the caravan, as well as those who offered assistance to caravan members, said they felt they had become targets of intense inspections and scrutiny by border officials." NBC San Diego