Private prison labor is a billion dollar industry in the US with little regulation and unclear ties to corporations through their supply chains. While there is a clear ethical argument against forced labor for incarcerated individuals, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution specifies that slavery is prohibited “except as a punishment for crime.”

Boston Common is “un-vested” from private prison labor—meaning our Comprehensive ESG Guidelines avoid companies that own or operate private prisons:

For its own investment strategies, Boston Common Asset Management avoids investing in publicly traded companies that own or operate private prisons and has never invested in either GEO Group or CoreCivic (Corrections Corp. of America) since the firm’s inception in 2003.” ~Steven Heim, Managing Director and Director of ESG Research

We have also excluded investments in companies that profited from the unequal application of our laws – for example completely excluding companies involved in providing private prison services. We are members of the Corrections Accountability Project which works to eliminate the influence of commercial interests on our criminal justice system.

We are also members of the Boston Prison Divestment Campaign, launched in September 2018, which calls for institutions and individuals to divest from the following companies:
• The GEO Group (stock ticker: GEO)
• CoreCivic (stock ticker: CXW)
• G4S (stock ticker: GFS)
• Securus Technologies (through Platinum Equity)
• Global Tel Link (“GTL”) (through American Securities),
• Keefe Group and Trinity Services Group (through H.I.G. Capital)

The Boston Prison Divestment Campaign is also working to encourage the city and the state to consider divestment legislation.

We joined a collaborative engagement with JP Morgan led by the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) on private prisons and financing links began in October 2017 and the dialogue with JP Morgan will center on how its human rights policies impact the enhanced risk assessment of private prisons. We are beginning to engage in a more systemic review of human rights risks/human rights due diligence of bank lending with others—especially the OECD, as we are actively participating in its consultation to develop new guidance.

The information in this article should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security.

Published On: November 30, 2018Categories: From the Commons