Activists, the media, and even presidential candidates are speaking out against private prison companies and other corporations that profit from mass incarceration. That’s why the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has launched an online tool designed to help socially responsible investors align their portfolios with their values and divest from the prison industry:
The new tool can scan any list of holdings and highlight prison-related investments. And the screen goes beyond ‘the usual suspects’– the facility management companies like CCA and GEO Group. Our research maps the wider prison industry and profiles the main companies providing services that range from health and food services to private probation and the supply of surveillance apparatuses.
Among the features of the website are:
-A mapping of the U.S. for-profit prison industry, highlighting the main companies involved in anything from facility management to food and commissary services, private probation and video visitation
-For 13 of these companies, the main publicly traded ones (or ‘the dirty 13’), we provide an in-depth profile including a summary of divestment and boycott highlights so far. See for example G4S or 3M, Aramark or Geo.
-Our new divestment recommendation: criteria and list of companies (to be reevaluated in 6 months).
-And most importantly, this is a tool for scanning investments. Upload or type in any list of holdings, however long, in any format, and the tool will scan it for you to produce a report highlighting the issues of concern.
Prisons cost the U.S. taxpayer approximately $85 billion a year, with a sizeable portion of that money going to private companies. Activists argue that this incentivizes corporations to lobby for harsh criminal justice policies that tear apart families and communities while undermining, rather than addressing, community safety.
The tool scans for the multitude of profiteers that have sprung up to take advantage of a literally captive market for every imaginable product and service-from the uniforms to the food to the phone service.